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Around two million years ago, the first humans were born. For centuries, due to the lack of known alternatives, meat has contributed to our evolution and welfare, supplying us with a major portion of protein and energy. This lifestyle did not escalate quickly as we did in numbers since then, but it became a quite serious topic when we aligned it with economy and population demand.
The industrialization of meat brought us an ethical conundrum, regarding the value of life, followed by the consequences of it on a massive scale, hitting our planet with its collateral damage. In fact, one might argue that we look at it from the wrong perspective, because, in the long run, the planet will heal itself, while we lay in the bed we made
So, how worried should we be and how has the meat industry been affecting climate change?
According to BBC News, almost a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions comes from agriculture destined to the maintenance of livestock. Millions of acres have been destroyed in order to create massive crop fields for vast quantities of feed. It has been estimated by the United Nations that, globally, the meat industry makes up more than 14% of all man-made greenhouse gases.
This conversion of natural habitats to agricultural fields, besides releasing tons of carbon pollution, is treated with toxic chemicals and doused in fertilizers in excessive quantities. This leads to the release of harmful substances into the surrounding environment. These emissions include methane, ammonia, and carbon dioxide, contributing even further to climate change.
What we’ve all been thinking. The necessity of a huge reduction in meat-eating habits is now a harsh reality, along with an enormous change to farming methods and policies. Without these changes, we risk having to deal with a global crisis about 30 years from now. Professor Johan Rockström, at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, couldn’t have said it better:
“Greening the food sector or eating up our planet: this is what is on the menu today”. In short, we must change the way we eat and the way we produce food, “asap”.
Corporations play a huge part in it, but we can always help! Eating more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, you name it. Most importantly, eating less meat and dairy is the key, because it will affect the meat industry as a whole and force their hand to become part of the solution, instead of being part of the problem.
Ignorance is bliss, they say, except in this scenario due to its long-term consequences for all of us. Help us get others to join the cause and take action. Spread the word and you’ll see that facing the facts will make people want to make the difference! After all, we all start with baby steps.