[Note: this is a guest post by Roddy Newman]
Green Party MP Caroline Lucas has been criticised for supporting Paul McCartney’s ‘meat free Monday’ climate change campaign, but her critics are simply ignorant, because the world’s leading authority on climate change, Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, the chair of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, told “The Observer” in 2008 that people ought to give up meat one day a week for climate change reasons, and then ought to reduce their meat consumption further:
As the above “Observer” article points out, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation has stated that global meat consumption will double by the middle of the century, because the world’s growing middle class in for example China, are using their extra income to buy more meat, and FAO said in its now famous book length 2006 report, “Livestock’s Long Shadow”, which you can read here, that meat production, and dairy production, which it predicted would nearly double by 2050, were the biggest single creators of greenhouse gases, so Caroline Lucas’s ignorant critics ought to explain how they intend to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, by for example encouraging people to switch to renewable energy, when what may be the biggest single cause of such emissions is forecast to double, or nearly double over the next 4 decades:
Prince Philip, who, as this “Daily Telegraph” shows, decided that vegan food would be the most ecological type of food to serve at a 2009 Windsor Castle summit of the UN Secretary General and the world’s religious leaders which was designed to spread green ideas to the planet’s religious believers, was the President of the World Wildlife Fund from 1981-1996, so it is not surprising that the WWF argued in a 2009 study that, for climate change reasons, people ought to eat meat no more than 3 times a week, and that they ought to drink soya or rice milk substitutes for cow’s milk:
Two years later, the WWF commissioned a report from the Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health at Aberdeen University which was designed to create a sustainable diet that the WWF could use to lobby the British Government and the British food industry to use as a blueprint for an ideal diet. As you would expect, the proposed diet involves cutting back on meat and dairy consumption:
Another environmental group, Friends of the Earth, issued a report in 2010 which argued that the Government should change its healthy eating and green advice to encourage people to eat less meat:
Prince Philip’s son Charles, who used to be vegetarian, also believes that meat consumption is an environmental problem, as in 2011 he urged Americans, who are particularly big meat consumers, to eat less beef, because the Earth could not cope with the amount of water which is needed to produce it:
Lord Stern, who was a British Government adviser on climate change, also believes that meat consumption is an environmental problem for water, and also climate change reasons. He argued in 2009 that meat eating could eventually become as socially unacceptable as drink driving as a result:
Later that year, the Government’s Sustainable Development Commission released a report which argued that the public ought to cut down on meat and dairy consumption for ecological reasons:
However, what may be the most important wake up call of all of these warnings from prominent organisations and individuals, was this 2009 report for the American environmental group the Worldwatch Institute by a World Bank scientist, and by a scientist who was the World Bank’s lead environmental adviser, as it argued that “Livestock’s Long Shadow” was wrong for various reasons to estimate that meat and dairy livestock created only 18% of greenhouse gases. The Worldwatch report claimed that 51% was a better estimate:
As the authors admitted, that 51% figure was “a strong claim that required strong evidence”, so they went on to explain that evidence in great detail. They also argued that people switching to meat and dairy free diets would be the quickest way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The UN Environment Program was thus right to call in 2010 for the world to adopt a vegan diet to save the planet from climate change, and hunger and fuel poverty:
All of these warnings over the last 5 years from prominent organisations and individuals about the ecological damage which dairy production does, may partly explain why soya milk sales have massively increased since 2006 in Britain, as this 2011 “Daily Telegraph” article reveals:
It might be “An Inconvenient Truth”, to cite the title of Al Gore’s famous documentary abut climate change, which says nothing about meat and dairy livestock being a cause of that environmental problem, that people’s favourite meat and dairy products are the number one cause of climate change, but there are an ever growing number of meat substitutes which vegan companies like Redwoods and Frys have created for meat eaters who cannot do without the taste of chicken and other meats, and the list of vegan cow’s milk substitutes grows ever longer: soya, rice, oat, coconut, hemp, almond, millet, and spelt (a type of wheat) are all now available, though in the latter 4 cases, rarely outside health food shops, and I know from experience that adopting a vegan diet also leads you to try many types of tasty food that you would never have considered as an omnivore, or even as a vegetarian.
While the various prominent organisations and individuals who I have cited have highlighted various ecological reasons for adopting a vegan diet, they have not listed them all. The British vegan campaigning group Viva! have pointed out that farmed animals are not only the number one cause of climate change, but also the number one cause of: species extinction (because of farmers destroying their forest and other habitats), deforestation, desertification (which is primarily caused by grazing animals at the edge of deserts), and water pollution (because most of the world’s crops are chemically grown farm animal fodder, because of slurry from factory farms, etc.), and a leading cause of acid rain (because animal manure creates most nitrous oxide and ammonia), and antibiotic resistant superbugs (factory farming packs animals closely together, which rapidly spreads diseases, and leads to factory farmers heavily dosing their animals with antibiotics that people then consume the residue of when they eat those animals).
Viva! also point out that overfishing is emptying the world’s oceans, so it is handy that Redwoods have put so much effort into creating fish substitutes for people who wouldn’t like to do without the taste of fish. There is now even a vegan caviar made from seaweed, though unlike Redwoods and Frys products, which are widely available in health food shops, it is not easy to find:
The title of an important 2007 Viva! report about the ecological impact of non-vegan food, “Diet of Disaster”, was thus appropriate.