How changing our diet could save the planet and protect our future, by Shaun Britton
Photo by Keagan Henman
The Australian philanthropist Phillip Wollen said in his speech at the debate ‘Animals Should Be Off The Menu’ that “Ours is the Swiss army knife of the future.” With our planet facing an ever more bleak ecological future, a future compounded by myriad interwoven issues, could the move away from animal foods be our best hope for confronting them?
Reasons and Resources: The Case For Plant-Based
Firstly, meat and dairy take a deeply alarming toll on our environment. The Institute for Trade and Agriculture and GRAIN co-produced a report on the impact of meat and dairy industries. They concluded that they were set to overtake fossil fuel industries as the leading world polluters. Equally, the practice of meat and dairy production is according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), responsible for 18% of GHG’s. Given that we need to cut our emissions significantly, by at least half in order to stay below the 2 degree tipping point described by the IPCC to avoid dramatic consequences, it is both timely and essential to question animal agriculture's footprint and indeed validity.
Animal agriculture is also responsible for many other negative effects to the natural landscape. Another report from the FAO says that waste from livestock, including manure has serious implications for water quality, not to mention the hormones, antibiotics and vaccines that move through farms and reach drinking water sources. A recent study from the Senior Water Scientist at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory warned that one of the main challenges about to face humankind is dramatic growing water shortages. It is troubling therefore to read that the the water footprint of beef is 6 times larger than for pulses, with beef responsible for over 15,000 litres of water consumption per kilogram.