Animal Aid

Government says eat less meat to help combat climate change

Posted 26 November 2009

Animal Aid is delighted to hear that a new government-backed report (Health and Climate Change) released yesterday (Wed 25th November), is advising people to eat less meat to help combat climate change and reduce heart disease. The Health Secretary, Andy Burnham, is also supporting calls for a 30 per cent reduction in the number of farmed animals bred for meat in order to help halve the UK’s carbon emissions by 2030, in line with current targets.

Breeding and killing animals for food is recognised by the United Nations as one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems, not least climate change. Animal farming is responsible for as much as 50 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions - more than the entire energy and transport sectors combined. Cattle farming is the single biggest cause of deforestation in the world, which releases large amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere. Farming animals is also the number one source of methane - a greenhouse gas that is 33 times more powerful at trapping heat than CO2. It is produced during the digestive processes of cows, sheep and other ruminants and is released from their untreated manure. Methane breaks down much more quickly than CO2, therefore, reducing or eliminating meat from our diets is an effective action that will result in an almost immediate drop in dangerous emissions.

The Health Secretary said, ‘that though climate change can seem a distant, impersonal threat, the associated costs to health are a very real and present danger’, such as the spread of infectious diseases and risks to food supply. By reducing your consumption of meat you will also be lowering your risk of developing diet-related illnesses, as animal products are loaded with saturated fats, which have been linked to heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.

And let’s not forget that reducing the amount of animal products we eat, or even better, switching to a vegan diet, will also help to end the suffering of farmed animals, most of whom spend their short, miserable lives inside filthy factory farms before being sent to slaughter. So what more incentive do you need to start eating more compassionately? And if you’re not ready to go vegan straight away, don’t worry, why not start with a Meat-Free Monday and see how you get on? Every little bit helps!

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