Earth Day (22 April) is a global movement designed to create awareness around key environmental issues affecting our planet.
This will be the 49th Earth Day (the organisation started in 1970) and each year the environmental issues faced by the planet have become more complex and more critical. We have now reached tipping point. On 7 October last year the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released their Special Report on Global Warning that warned of catastrophic consequences of a global temperature rise.
The statement by António Guterres, the UN’s Secretary General, reads “This report by the world’s leading climate scientists is an ear-splitting wake-up call to the world. It confirms that climate change is running faster than we are – and we are running out of time. We see the consequences all around us – more extreme weather, rising sea levels, diminishing Arctic sea ice. The scientists paint the most vivid picture we have ever had between a temperature rise of 1.5 degrees versus 2 degrees. A half of degree of warming makes a world of difference. It means more heat waves for tens of millions of people. Far greater species loss. Increased water scarcity in some of the world’s most unstable regions. A ten-fold increase in Arctic ice-free summers. And a total wipe-out of the world’s coral reefs.”
As terrifying as that all sounds, the report also gave us hope. As explained by Guterres, “At the same time, the report shows that it is still possible to limit warming to 1.5ºC. However, that will require urgent and far more ambitious action to cut emissions by half by 2030 and reach net zero emissions by 2050.”
Critical action is now essential. The UN lists investing in climate-friendly sustainable agriculture and a halt of deforestation as key to cutting emissions and one of the simplest solutions with the most immediate impact for these two issues is to reduce the consumption of animal products. Thus the call by Meat Free Mondays and The Fry Family Food Co. for consumers to #SwaptheMeat.
With a growing demand for vegan products, the meat alternatives industry is booming. Locally the Fry Family Food Co is leading the way with their family owned and run businesses and their highly successful plant-protein products that are estimated to have saved 3.5 million animals in 2018.
The UN’s call to keep the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees by 2030 cannot be achieved unless global meat consumption also decreases. 14.5% – 18% of global Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions are due to production of meat, dairy, and eggs. In many countries, meat consumption is an indicator of wealth; consequently, as incomes rise, the intake of meat and dairy is also rising across the globe.
Here are some facts about the environmental impact of animal agriculture:
- A study by Oxford University released in October 2018 warned that huge reductions in the eating of meat are necessary if we are to combat dangerous climate change. The study showed that beef consumption in western countries needed to drop by 90% and be replaced by five times more beans and pulses.
- A study into the global impact of food production published in Science showed that meat and dairy supply 18% of calories and 37% of protein, yet it uses a massive 83% of farmland.
- The same study showed that meat and dairy production produces 60% of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions.
- It also cites the following powerful statement: “Most strikingly, impacts of the lowest-impact animal products typically exceed those of vegetable substitutes, providing new evidence for the importance of dietary change.”
- The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) says that livestock is the world’s largest user of land resources, with grazing land and cropland dedicated to the production of animal feed representing almost 80% of all agricultural land. “Feed crops are grown in one-third of total cropland, while the total land area occupied by pasture is equivalent to 26% of the ice-free terrestrial surface”.
- Animal agriculture is responsible for between 5% and 18% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (more than the combined exhaust from all transportation).
- Animal agriculture is responsible for up to 91% of Amazon destruction.
Meat Free Mondays is a campaign started by Tammy Fry 10-years ago as a way to encourage South Africans to eat less meat and more plant-based by bringing one meat-free meal into their kitchens each week.
“Whether the reason to eat more veggies is health based, or people are doing it for the animals and the environment, Meat Free Mondays has always been a small, manageable move with a big impact,” says Tammy Fry, International Marketing Director of The Fry Family Food Co.
For more information about Fry’s visit www.fryfamilyfood.com/ or
For more information about Meat Free Mondays visit http://www.supportmfm.co.za or
Disclaimer: Issued by The Fry Family Food Co.
MR LEE FRASER