Chantal Cooke is a passionate environmentalist and co-founder and Managing Director of the award winning Passion for the Planet, the UK’s only radio station focusing on health and environmental issues.
Passion broadcasts to London and the South on DAB Digital Radio and nationwide on the Internet: www.passionfortheplanet.com.
Sometimes when confronted with the enormity of our environmental challenges and the seeming lack of urgency displayed by our leaders, it’s easy to feel we are all doomed and that any contribution we make is pointless.
However, as individuals we can make a difference. We have enormous power – it’s just that we often don’t realise it. For every pro environmental action we take this year we are contributing to the solution.
Munching Less Meat is an easy way to live a more sustainable life, make a contribution to the future of the planet, reduce deforestation and help alleviate hunger in developing world countries. All that, for just saying no to meat – and you don’t even have to become a 100% committed vegetarian.
Did you know that rearing livestock for meat consumption:
* accounts for 18% of global human greenhouse gas emissions and 8% of global human water use
* It’s responsible for 70% of the Amazonian deforestation
* It directly threatens 306 of the 825 designated terrestrial eco-regions and threatens 1699 red list endangered species (IUCN)
* 70% of all agricultural land is used for rearing farmed animals, and yet 7kg of grain fed to a cow will produce only 1kg of beef. This leads to lack of food in developing world countries as their land is used to grow grain to feed animals that we in the west eat.
* If we continue fishing at the current rate all commercial fisheries could die out by 2050, simply because there won’t be enough fish left to be caught
And despite all this – global meat production has almost doubled in the last 40 years (230million tonnes in 2006) and is expected to double again by 2050
So what can we do? We can all eat a little less meat.As a London Leader in Sustainability I recently launched a campaign to encourage us all reduce our meat consumption by signing up to one of the Munch Less Meat Challenges. The idea is not to covert us all to card carrying veggies (although if you decide to take that step – that’s great!), it’s to help everyone reduce the amount of meat they eat, in ways that are fun and easy to manage. Everyone can take part and help make a difference.
There are 10 challenges – you simply pick the one or ones that suit you.
1. Meat as a treat – By having meat less often you can really treat yourself with a good quality, tender, delicious, (slightly more expensive), piece of meat when you do have it. For example ditch cheap mince for a tender piece of British reared Organic Steak or swap a water filled battery chicken for a corn fed, free range organic chicken with lots of flavour.
2. Learn to cook two meat free recipes – Try something new; learn to cook two tasty new vegetarian recipes to add to your repertoire. We have plenty of recipes for you to try, click here.
3. Pass on a meat free recipe – Once you’ve learnt to cook a new meat free recipe how about passing it on to a friend. Or perhaps you already have a meat free recipe of your own you could pass on and encourage them to try.
4. Have one meat free meal per day – You could go for the easy option here and have a meat free breakfast. Or perhaps you’re a little more adventurous and instead of that meat sandwich you pick up at lunchtime go for a meat free option. Or why not try one of the new recipes you’ve learnt in the evening.
5. Have a meat free day – Commit to having a whole ‘meat free’ day each week for a year.
6. Do you need something even easier? How about a Baby Bite? This is an easy one to start you off. Do you know what’s in your food? There can be hidden meat content in all sorts of things, even cheese and onion crisps! Many “vegetarian” crisps contain meat and lots of chewy sweets also contain animal products like gelatine. So for this challenge we’re asking you to pledge to check what’s in the food you’re eating and try and to opt for meat free sweets and snacks as often as possible.
7. Host a meat free dinner party – Make it a social occasion and share some of the meat free dishes you like with others.
8. Ask your local restaurant for two meat free options – All too often there is only one meat free option on the menu. So ask your favourite local restaurant to include two meat free choices and let them know, that if they do, we’ll help them promote their restaurant (for free) on this website. Click here to view restaurants that are participating.
9. Have a meat free Christmas – Why not try something different this year. How about a delicious nut roast with all the trimmings? Click here for some recipe ideas.
10. Discover how quickly you can save £50 munching less meat – See how easy it is to save money by eating pulses and vegetables instead of meat. See how long it takes you to save £50 and let us know.
11. Go vegetarian – I know I said 10 but you could just go all the way!
It’s amazing how easy it is to reduce your meat intake once you start to think about it. Begin with the things you find easy and if you’re craving a bacon sandwich – have one. Living sustainably doesn’t need to be about sacrifice – its just about taking a moment to think about our actions and to make choices that are positive and contribute to the world rather than negative ones that damage people and the planet.
Its amazing how much you could save by choosing the meat free option;
1. Meat as a treat
This will save 42,350 sq feet of rain forest (equivalent to 22 good sized homes)
2. Learn to cook two meat free meals
This will save over 200lbs of manure being produced by food animals leading to nitrate pollution of our countryside & rivers
3. Pass on a meat free recipe
This will save 29,076 gallons of water
4. Eating one meat free meal per day
This will save 54.25 gallons of gasoline from fossil fuels
5. A meat free day will reduce your greenhouse gas emissions by 3/5th of a tonne
6. Baby Bite, Baby savings but at least you’ve started
7. Host a meat free dinner party and save 14lbs of grain that can be used to feed people instead
8. Ask your local restaurant for two meat free options.
The savings here are potentially huge! And you’re helping to make it easier for everyone!
9. Have a meat free Christmas dinner.
Save 20 sq ft of topsoil from erosion. Topsoil is required to grow crops. Once gone it can take 100s of years to rebuild
10. How quickly can you save £50 munching less meat? Try it and find out! Average time so far is one month
11. Become a Vegetarian If everyone in Britain ate a meat-free diet 7 days a week it would be the same as eliminating all greenhouse gas emissions from 12.5 million households in the UK.
(To see how these were calculated and the assumptions made visit: http://www.munchlessmeat.co.uk/The_Anorak_Info.html )
Still not convinced? Then consider this….
760 million tonnes of grain are used to feed farmed animals; seven times the amount used to produce biofuels – and we worry about the impact of biofuels on our environment and food security.
Soya farming is responsible for mass deforestation in the Amazon – over 80% of the world’s soya is used to fatten our meat animals, so if you’re eating meat you’re contributing to the problems of soya production much more than any vegetarian.
And of course there are plenty of health benefits when eating a low meat diet.So I’d like to challenge you to visit http://www.munchlessmeat.co.uk and sign up to a Munch Less Meat challenge – it’s an easy way to make a tangible difference to both you and the planet.