Avoiding meat and dairy is one of the most powerful ways you can reduce your environmental impact. Animals Australia explains how.
Most of us would agree that if we want Earth to sustain life for generations to come, we need cleaner energy. We need cleaner energy to fuel our cars, our homes and our cities. If advances in technology can overcome these challenges, we will have solved a big piece of the climate puzzle. But not all the big pieces...
Avoiding meat and dairy is one of the single biggest ways to reduce your impact on Earth!
Adelaide University's Professor of Climate Change, Barry Brook, estimates that raising animals for human consumption is responsible for half of Australia's short-term global warming gases — that's more than the coal industry.
What makes animal agriculture so inefficient?
The millions upon millions of animals farmed for food are releasing damaging greenhouse gas emissions every day in the form of burps and farts. It might sound silly, but these emissions make farmed animals one of Australia's leading contributors to climate change — which ironically will affect farmers earliest and worst of all, particularly through the devastating impact of more frequent, longer and severe droughts.
What's more, farmed animals consume more food than they produce. One study found that it can take about 6 kg of plant protein to produce 1 kg of animal protein. Or put another way, siphoning plant protein through the bodies of animals to produce animal protein is like filling your car's tank by throwing a bucket of fuel at it: you'll lose more than you gain.
Farming animals is not only one of the biggest contributors to global warming, but it's also a completely inefficient way of producing food.
The IPCC report stresses that it's our food systems that present one of the most pressing issues: in order to combat climate change, we need to use less coal and reduce global meat consumption starting now.
Every plant-based meal makes a difference
Here are some ways to get started eating predominantly plant-based food and reducing your emissions:
- Reduce your meat and dairy consumption
Many people choose to cut out or cut back on animal products gradually. You might try meat-free Mondays or eating plant-based a few days per week. Or you could start by replacing one animal product with a plant-based ingredient at a time. Once you start experimenting with plant-based meals, you'll quickly see how easy and tasty it is.
- Try being a flexitarian
Giving up meat isn’t for everyone but simply cutting down the amount of meat in your diet can still have great benefits for the environment. In fact, the flexitarian diet was recently ranked as the third healthiest diet. Make the diet work for you, but aim for 1 serve of red meat per week and ½ serve of white meat per day.
- Try a plant-based challenge
A time-based challenge is a great way to get started eating plant-based food. Challenge 22 is a 22-day plant-based challenge which offers advice and community to help you feel supported along the way.
- Jump right into a plant-based life
If you're ready to fully embrace a plant-based lifestyle, then jump in. Make sure to keep it fun, stress-free and easy for yourself. Keep in mind that it's not about being perfect. If you slip up, don't worry. You can always pick up where you left off at your next meal, or try another step suggested above. Finding an approach that works for you is more important than being perfect from day one.
However you choose to get started, you'll find all the information you need, plus a bunch of delicious recipes in our free veg starter kit!
Find out other ways you can live a 1.5-degree life.
This article was written by Animals Australia.