All things green: Meat and the environment

Part of my time over the past weekend was spent, as is only right, in the local pub with my chums. After a pint or two, I found myself involved in a discussion about the most effective things you could do to ‘be green’ – a rather high-brow subject for the Kings Arms crowd.

A few daft suggestions were discounted (killing yourself, killing the heads of the oil companies, killing the heads of the oil companies and then yourself, etc) and a further set were ruled out for being too hard to sell (not having children, returning to prehistoric life). The sensible suggestions included not flying, not owning a car and someone (well, me actually) mentioned the touchy subject of not eating meat.

The fact is, the meat and dairy industry is the world’s single biggest producer of greenhouse gas, apart from nature’s own well-balanced systems. This is down to a number of contributing factors; the gas produced by the animals themselves, the energy-intensive way in which they are raised, the food that has to be grown and transported to feed them, the transport of the animals themselves (live or as meat) and so on. What’s more, modern farming methods are morally very dubious if you look into them, and I’m sure all visitors to this kind of website will be concerned about that.

While I’m all for vegetarianism, I appreciate this might not be easy for everyone. However if we all chose to eat less meat, perhaps being veggie for one or two days a week, then we’d shave a huge chunk off our carbon footprint. What’s more, with meat being one of the most expensive items in our shopping trolleys, the money we’d save could mean we might splash out on better-quality, ethically-produced meat when we did buy it. Better for us, better for the Earth and better for the animals.

I’d love to hear from any readers who have other ideas about how best to be green, and anyone with any thoughts on how our diet affects the environment. Could you cut meat out of your diet?