The WRI launched its report at the UN’s climate change summit in Poland. And it insisted that we need to reduce our consumption of beef drastically in order to feed ourselves sustainably without adding to the ongoing climate catastrophe.
Step away from the beef
Recommending a shift towards “healthier, more sustainable diets”, the WRI stressed that:
Consumption of ruminant meat (beef, lamb and goat) is projected to rise 88 percent between 2010 and 2050. Beef, the most commonly consumed ruminant meat, is resource-intensive to produce, requiring 20 times more land and emitting 20 times more GHGs [greenhouse gases] per gram of edible protein than common plant proteins
And if each person ate the equivalent of only “1.5 hamburgers per week” of such meat by 2050, that would help to reduce greenhouse gases by half of what the world needs to stop the “worst climate impacts”.
Continue reading below...
To achieve this kind of change, the report recommends “improving the marketing of plant-based foods, improving meat substitutes and implementing policies that favour consumption of plant-based foods”. And to show the impact beef consumption currently has on the planet, it shared the following graphic:
It also summarised the challenges facing the world with the graphic below:
‘The single biggest thing we can do to fight climate chaos’
Reports have previously suggested that the meat industry (beef and dairy in particular) makes up at least half of the greenhouse gas emissions responsible for today’s climate chaos. Another scientific analysis showed how ending meat and dairy consumption would cut global farmland use by over 75%, and how livestock occupies over 80% of farmland but produces only 18% of the calories we consume. The lead researcher concluded that “a vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth”. The BBC, meanwhile, also insisted recently (summarising guidance from Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) scientists) that:
The single biggest way to reduce your environmental impact on the planet is to modify your diet to include less meat
And while not everyone will give up meat altogether, Twitter users have definitely been spreading the word:
A single cow burps 600 litres of methane every day (yep!) 🐮
How eating local and cutting out beef can help save our planet. 🌍
(Via BBC Science News) https://t.co/IBDa5TxOyZ
— Aina Vidal (@vidal_aina) December 1, 2018
“We could imagine a significant shift from beef to chicken+that by itself goes a long way
Poultry production has ~1/8th=12.5% climate impact of beef production.
— Nightengalejml2 (@54nightengale) December 5, 2018
When people ask, ‘but what can I do about climate change?’ we have an answer, ‘eat less beef.’ Cattle emit so much greenhouse gas that if they were a country they would be the planet’s third largest greenhouse gas emitter. https://t.co/GlVinfu4Ar
— CounterPunch (@NatCounterPunch) November 28, 2018
Being vegan or vegetarian, or even just being more conscious about the amount of BEEF you eat, is the BIGGEST step any individual can take in helping slow the effects of human lifestyle on climate change. pic.twitter.com/6QnYIxAZYM
— Paula Valencia (@Paula_ValenciaN) December 2, 2018
A @theCCCuk reports that beef & lamb produce most farm greenhouse gases.
The number of sheep and cattle in the UK should be reduced by between a fifth and a half to help combat #climatechange.https://t.co/qAYjs2keOw
— Scot Communities CAN (@ScotCCAN) December 4, 2018
People in heavy meat consuming regions such as Europe, the US, Russia, and Brazil may have to limit their intake of beef, lamb and goat to 1.5 servings per week by 2050 if the planet is to sustainably feed its population and avert runaway climate change.https://t.co/YL0QL2PoI3
— Michael Holder (@michaelholder) December 5, 2018
It’s a good time to rail against beef as a primary agent of climate change, displacement of indigenous people, and an over-subsidized industry… there should be a higher tax on beef than on beer… just saying.
— Noah L Blough (@NLBlough) December 5, 2018
COP24 climate talks may have been productive, but in efforts to combat emissions, they must walk it like they talk it. Reducing beef consumption at the @UN Conference of the Parties would have been a great step in that direction.
— Impossible Foods (@ImpossibleFoods) December 5, 2018
Not a vegan crusade
The global meat industry’s rapid growth is showing few signs of slowing down. But it’s putting a massive strain on Earth’s resources, causing many species of animals to die off in the process. It’s also playing a leading role in water waste and deforestation. And that’s not even mentioning animal rights, the many benefits of eating less meat (from health to finances), or the disproportionate effect climate change has on Earth’s poorest people (who hardly eat meat in comparison to Western diets).
But as author Matt Haig suggested, this isn’t a vegan crusade. It’s simply about highlighting the urgent need for change:
I feel we are still SO far away from waking up to climate change. Even when the BBC warned today that eating beef is literally the worst thing individuals can do for carbon emissions have just seen tons of otherwise progressive people mocking vegans. Strange short-sightedness.
— Matt Haig (@matthaig1) December 3, 2018
Yes no-one likes to be preached to. But maybe we sometimes need to preached to. The suffragettes and civil rights leaders were right to preach to us. Maybe the environmentalists are right to preach to us. They have science on their side.
— Matt Haig (@matthaig1) December 3, 2018
If we care about the future of our planet, and our children who’ll inherit what’s left of it, then our eating habits must change. At the very least, we need to cut the amount of beef we eat. No ifs, no buts.
Since you're here ...
We know you don't need a lecture. You wouldn't be here if you didn't care.
Now, more than ever, we need your help to challenge the rightwing press and hold power to account. Please help us survive and thrive.