According to a comprehensive analysis of the environmental impact from the food system, harmful climate change will occur unless we reduce the amount of meat we eat.
There is concern, that with growing population, the environmental effects of food production will become far worse. Environmental damage is caused by food production in a number of ways, including water shortages from irrigation requirements, clearance of forest for pasture, and lifeless areas of ocean caused from pollutants. With global population expected to hit 9 – 12 billion by 2050, these effects will only be exacerbated with time.
There is great pressure to reduce environmental impact where possible, with a recent UN report published wherein leading experts claim that there a merely a dozen years in which to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees centigrade. After this point there is a significantly worsened risk of extreme heat, drought, and floods.
It is suggested that the Western diet, rich in meat and dairy, would need to cease altogether, and our diets would have to drastically change to stem climate change. Recommendations are that globally we adopt a ‘flexitarian’ diet, consuming on average 3 times the number of beans, and 4 times the number of nuts and seeds than we currently do. On top of this, the average global citizen would need to eat 50% fewer eggs, 75% less beef, and 90% less pork.
The dietary change required is even starker when focussing on rich nations, such as the UK and the US. We would have to increase our bean and pulse intake by four to six times, whilst reducing our milk intake by 60%, and beef intake by 90%.
Even with the rise of veganism and ethical food choices, it seems hard to imagine the average Western citizen willingly surrendering their meat and dairy intake.
Could Britain, a nation of tea drinkers and corned beef eaters, willingly adapt to a world of soya milk and split-pea patties?