I told you last week about my friend Toby who has been challenging us at The Well each week with a new environmental challenge, encouraging us to take a closer look at what impact our lifestyle is having on the world we are stewards of. For me this is fundamentally a human issue. What state our environment is in has a direct effect on the lives of people, especially the poor.

Still, this week’s challenge had some of my friends looking a little sceptical: Cut down on the amount of meat you eat. You are trying to persuade this room of meat-and-two-veg diners to go veggie? Seriously? Seriously.

But here’s the thing. I am so totally in favour of this challenge! I had never ever considered going veggie until the summer of my first year at uni. Until then the ‘go veggie’ discussion had always been spoken of in terms of animal rights. And as much as I like animals, I wasn’t persuaded. Treat them well, yes. But eat them still, yes.

But then the summer of 2004 I spent the summer in South Africa sharing my room with an American student from Arizona/Chicago who was veggie for much bigger reasons. She would talk about the amount of deforestation linked to farming cattle, the amount of corn grown that was only fed to animals, the impact this growing industry was having on the environment.

And I don’t know if she even knows this but she convinced me!

These facts are from a 2006 UN report Livestock’s Long Shadow:

  • The livestock sector generates more greenhouse gas emissions as measured in CO2 equivalent – 18 percent – than transport.
  • Livestock now use 30 percent of the earth’s entire land surface, including the 33 percent of the global arable land that is used to producing feed for livestock.
  • It is a major driver of deforestation, for example in Latin America where some 70 percent of former forests in the Amazon have been turned over to grazing.
  • Global meat production is projected to more than double from 229 million tonnes in 1999/2001 to 465 million tonnes in 2050.

So I am still not vegetarian. But I try to see meat as a luxury and try to buy ethically sourced meat and dairy products. Only eating meat as a treat drastically reduces my food bills each week (although I still haven’t taken to dumpster diving for my food as my veggie friend does!) but not only that, I think its responsible stewardship of this world to do so.

What do you think?

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