Jane from CLEAR writes about the least environmentally damaging way to eat meat in her latest blog.
As the extent of climate change becomes increasingly alarming, meat consumption is receiving considerable media attention There is much debate over the exact impact of meat production on the environment. While some organizations claim that livestock farming drives climate change, and we should stop eating meat, or at least reduce the amount we eat to once or twice a week, others state that regenerative agriculture can actually reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Meat from ruminants (mainly beef) was consistently identified as the single food with the greatest impact on the environment, most often in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and/or land use per unit commodity.
The environmental impact of meat production varies enormously due to the wide variety of agricultural practices employed around the world. Industrial meat is the single biggest cause of deforestation globally. This is because farmers are deliberately setting forest fires to clear space to grow industrial animal feed, like soya, for farms back in the UK, (and for cattle ranching), and releasing billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, accelerating the climate emergency.
The more we can bring livestock farming back to a natural approach, the closer we come to eliminating the imbalance in the greenhouse gas emissions. “British farmers are leading the way in producing climate-friendly food and we are the only community to set an ambitious target to become net-zero by 2040. People say ‘cut out meat to save the planet’, but this message wrongly implies all farms throughout the world have the same carbon footprint and environmental impact, and so misses the real point”. Stuart Roberts, Vice President, NFU
In 2013, a report by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation showed that beef produced in Britain (and the rest of Western Europe) is two-and-a-half times more efficient than the global average and four times more efficient than some other parts of the world. The UK climate means grass grows really well. With 65 percent of British farmland only suitable for grassland, the most efficient way to turn this inedible grass into high-quality, nutritious protein is to graze livestock. We believe it is far better to buy British meat than to rely on imported alternative proteins from production systems that don’t observe our high values or don’t share our environmental ambitions. Patrick Holden, Director, Sustainable Food Trust
British beef and lamb is some of the most sustainably produced in the world, requiring very few additional inputs. Their grazing lands store carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and provide vital habitats and food sources for some of our most treasured and at-risk wildlife species. Jonathan Foot, Head of Environment, Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB).
So, if you want to continue to eat meat and have the least environmental impact:
1. Eat Local Meat – the lowest food miles
2. Buy Grass-Raised Meat – the lowest environmental impact
3. Eat Nose to Tail – so nothing is wasted.
Climate Action Fife is a Fife-wide partnership project, bringing together individuals, communities, local government and businesses to tackle the climate emergency. It is funded by The National Lottery Community Fund’s Climate Action Fund. #ClimateActionFife