By Bonnie White, member of Creston Climate Action Society
This article will look at the last suggestion from David Attenborough’s film, “A Life on Our Planet”. He discussed the option of eating less or no meat to help mitigate some effects of climate change.
Larger meat sources such as beef have a far reaching impact on the planet. Many acres of land are needed to support herds of cattle and other grazers for our growing population. This means the conversion of our natural grasslands for grazing and growing feed. Many areas of forest are cleared as well for grazing animals, which removes the trees who provide oxygen and reduce carbon dioxide emissions worldwide. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization says that 26 per cent of the Earth’s terrestrial surface is used for livestock grazing. The loss of natural areas also means a loss of biodiversity and the earth’s way of storing carbon. There are many spin-off effects related to our daily choices.
Beef seems to have the highest environmental footprint as compared to other protein sources, such as pork or chicken. Cattle also use large amounts of water and release methane into the atmosphere. Transportation costs must be factored in as well. Livestock on our planet produces 14.5 per cent of our global greenhouse gases.
So from a global perspective, it makes sense to eat less meat or eliminate it from your diet. One of our members calls herself a “Selectarian”, meaning she eats minimal meat, but if she does, it is grown organically and regeneratively with minimal food miles. This can mean eating locally from sustainable producers, who are considering environmental impacts and humanely caring for their animals. Any animal who sacrifices its life for us deserves to be treated with humility and respect. Local, sustainably-raised meat is also more nutritious than industrial-farmed products, so you get more bang for your buck. If one does eat meat, perhaps wild game sources can be another less impactful option. These sources raise themselves with minimal control or alteration of their natural environment by humankind.
Eating less or no meat can also help to lower your grocery costs, which seem to be rising by the day. Livestock prices will most certainly be rising after our dry summer with less hay being produced. My husband and I choose to eat less meat overall, and we save our money in order to purchase quality local products both for more nutrition and to support our local food hub. Our beautiful valley offers so many choices. You are what you eat after all! Eating less meat also makes for easier clean-up in the kitchen… an added bonus on those busy days after work and school!
There are many different styles of eating these days, why not grab some vegan cookbooks from the library and do some experimenting? Have fun with it and get your family involved! Talk about the big picture with your kids. And check out our amazing Creston Valley Farmers’ Market! Ask questions and evaluate your choices. Find what works for you and your family. Please try to support sustainable systems and make conscious choices that consider the big picture, benefit biodiversity, and reduce climate change. Everything and everyone is connected, so our choices made locally by many people can have a huge impact globally. It’s a win-win in so many ways!