Industrial, intensive production of meat and dairy – and its mass consumption on a global scale – is fast making our planet uninhabitable for both people and many of the ecosystems and species who share it with us. Action is urgent to halve how much meat and dairy the UK consumes by 2030. People around the country are already changing the way they eat, whether that’s eating less meat, no meat, or making sure they only eat meat which has been locally and sustainably produced – now we need government and business to step up and do the same. We need less meat, produced in a better way, and we need it soon. Climate change is already threatening many aspects of our lives, including our food production.
Industrial meat production produces more greenhouse gas pollution than Shell or BP. And the big companies who drive it are hungry for expansion, even at the cost of the planet we all inhabit. And ‘Big Meat’ isn’t just big overseas – the UK has seen the rise of US-style ‘mega-farms’, with nearly 800 farms rearing pigs, chickens or cows intensively, many supplying international meat corporations such as Cargill.
If we keep on producing and eating the same amounts of meat and dairy as we do now, meat alone will use up 80% of our available ‘carbon budget’ – the amount of greenhouse gases we can produce while keeping the planet within a liveable temperature range. Eating too much red or processed meat also causes serious health consequences, with the NHS already spending 34 pence in every pound on managing diet-related disease.
While a growing movement of people are reducing how much meat and dairy they eat, and eating locally and sustainably reared meat and dairy, there’s a dangerous reluctance among government and business to ‘meat’ us halfway and take action to halve meat consumption by 2030.
Committing to halve meat consumption by 2030 gives the UK the chance to blaze a trail internationally by putting us on track to keep global warming within a manageable range (no more than 1.5 degrees by 2100).
We can and must all change our ways. But this task is bigger than any one of us alone. We need the government and businesses to accelerate the transition to plant-based, planet-friendly eating.
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