You may have seen the story in the news last week announcing that Goldsmiths, University of London, has banned beef from its canteens. This arose as immediate action is clearly needed to help tackle climate change since, in May of this year, the UK parliament declared that we are currently in the midst of an ‘environment and climate emergency’.
This is a big step to take and leads us to question - how can reducing meat and animal products help the environment?
How is animal agriculture linked to climate change?
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, raising livestock for meat, eggs and milk generates 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions - this is more than the combined exhaust from all transportation (emissions from planes, ships, cars and trucks put together), and current emissions from animal agriculture are expected to rise by 80% by the year 2050.
Farmed animals are also the world’s largest user of land resources, with pasture and arable land dedicated to the production of feed representing almost 80% of the total agricultural land. Aside from this, animal agriculture is also a leading contributor to biodiversity loss, acid rain, coral reef degeneration and deforestation.
And not forgetting that this is just the environmental impact that animal products have – the World Health Organisation also classed processed meats as a Type 1 carcinogen (which puts them in the same category as tobacco in regard to damage to health). Furthermore, although we are always celebrating wins for animals all around the world, over 4 billion land animals have been killed for food in the UK alone so far this year.
So how can we help animals and the planet?
According to the latest report by the United Nations Body on Climate Science, if more of the population shifts towards plant-based diets, and reduces their meat consumption, this could significantly boost the planet’s ability to fight climate change.
In his book ‘There is No Planet B’, Mike Berners-Lee argues that first steps can be as simple as everybody asking, ‘shall we have meat, pulses, beans or eggs tonight?’ in the same way we usually ask ‘shall we have pasta, potatoes or rice?’ Increasing how regularly plant-based options are included in our meal selection could generate enough space in the whole food system to feed the entire 2050 population (which is expected to reach 9.7 billion people).
The good news is, the retail sector has begun to act! Just this year, plant-based options have popped up in the most unlikely of places such as Burger King and KFC. This tactic has been to keep up with the growing demand, due in part to the significant increase in veganism and vegetarianism in recent years. A record breaking 250,000 people took part in Veganuary this year and the number of vegans in the UK has risen by approximately 400% over the last four years. Aside from this, 71% of the UK now identify as flexitarian – taking positive steps towards a more plant-based diet.
And with the recent commitment from Goldsmiths, a public research University – we believe this signifies the beginning of public institutions taking action and playing their role in the fight against climate change.
This is why our new campaign Make Food Kinder comes at an absolutely critical time!
How we are taking action to #MakeFoodKinder
We are working with local authorities to reduce the volume of meat and animal products in their public procurement – in order to tackle climate change, to stand up against animal cruelty, to improve the health of the public and to keep up the high demand for plant-based options that is constantly rising.
We recommend the 3 R’s Principle (Reduce, Refine, Replace) and encourage local authorities to:
- Reduce the volume of meat and animal products in their public procurement
- Where animal products are used, we want these to be sourced from higher welfare keeping conditions, so that public money is no longer funding the worst cases of animal cruelty
- Replace animal products with plant-based alternatives
The urgency to take action could not be more critical, and we believe the first steps include local authorities recommending the public institutions in their area to include one plant-based meal option per day on their menus. We then plan to work with them on longer term goals to incorporate into a food policy, which will have added benefits for animals and the planet.
Small actions all add up and can make a huge impact! You can help in the following ways:
- Find out more about our #MakeFoodKinder campaign
- View our map to find out how well your local authority is doing and sign the petition to demand public money is no longer used to fund animal cruelty!
- Follow the 3 R’s principle (Reduce, Refine, Replace) in your daily food choices. Need inspiration? Check out our recipe section for a whole host of delicious plant-based goodness
Together, we can #MakeFoodKinder for animals, for our health, and for the planet.