So, another week and another poll on the beautiful Zackarate Island. But what’s this? A gruesome photo? SHOCKNESS!
Yes, the topic we were talking about is related to the killing of innocent animals and no, I am not a raging righteous vegetarian. The poll question was would you consider/do you eat less meat for the environment? The first point I would like to make is less related to the environment, and more to decaptitated cows. I believe that if you can’t handle the truth about where meat comes from, then you shouldn’t be eating it. That point alone has created many a vegetarian. It also graphically illustrates the fact that city slickers have become quite withdrawn from where there food comes from. Put someone like myself (who has only lived in a city) on a small organic farm on an island in the middle of nowhere with all the food growing that I could need, and, within a year, I would probably starve to death. Thus, even city slickers should be brought up with the knowledge of how to grow food, making us more in touch with our diets, more likely to grow some fantastic home vegies, and thus lead more healthy and sustainable lives.
Back to the poll, when talking about climate change, especially in this country, we happily look at transport and say we can cut emissions here, here and here. The energy and industry sectors come under the same scrutiny, in general terms. But never do we seriously look at agriculture (unless you’re in the Green Party of course), writing it off as a necessary evil when it comes to emissions and environmental impact. Of course that’s true, to some extent. But the fact of the matter is that we eat too much meat, both from a nutritional point of view and a environmental one.
Simple physical principles come into this whole meat business. According to my year 12 biology text book (so it must be true!) plants take 1/100th of the energy out of the sun that hits their leaves and turn it into biomass (stored energy to make things simple). In turn, herbivores and omnivores eat the plants and take 1/10th of the energy out of them, which they turn into biomass of their own. Omnivores and carnivores can eat this meat and again take 1/10th of the energy from it. So, no matter how you calculate the end result (whether by over-simplifying or not) you need a lot more resources and space to grow 1kg of meat than to grow 1kg of veggies. With veggies you don’t need to grow food to feed them, they make their own. Besides that, plants take carbon out of the atmosphere when they grow, animals put it back in. Cows especially produce a lot of methane, which is a gas with roughly 20 to 25 the warming potential of carbon dioxide when talking about climate change.
In an ideal world we would all be vegans (and be happy about this arrangement). But in reality, even if we wanted to, not everyone could become a vegan. Everyone’s bodies work differently, and it’s about finding the right balance for you. If you can be a healthy vegan, and are happy with that, fantastic, big ups to you. But if not, don’t sweat it. It’s not worth putting your health on the line for. But in general we eat too much meat. Eating too much animal protein can cause kidney damage, probably among other things. As with everything, moderation is the key.
And as for those nay-sayers who say Greenies are only about less less less in a more more more culture, thus being killjoys who will never win much support, I say SHUT UP! We are all in the same waka, and if we don’t start taking sustainability seriously, we will all drown together (though the poor ones on the bottom of the heap will drown first of course). By framing sustainable changes positively, we will do much more to steer ourselves towards sustainability. Who doesn’t want to eat more healthy, therefore live more healthily and be happier with more energy? You can count me in.
As for myself, you can put me in the I consciously eat meat less category. Depending on my living situation, I try and eat meat no more than twice a week (including fish). If you don’t want to go vegetarian, I suggest you try setting a reduced meat quota. It’s amazing how little you notice the lack of meat! And if someone said to me I had to kill the next animal I ate meat from, I would have to. Otherwise I would be a complete hypocrite. But I would be thankful that it gave it’s life so that I could be healthy. Such is the circle of life.
(Photo by 10b travelling)