Lara Balsam, Director, Jewish Vegetarian Society (JVS) writes about diet.
This article relates to Section 5 Part 1 Question 6 of the Audit.
Remarkable isn’t it? Three times a day we have got a chance to positively impact our planet.
Wondering how your lunchtime lasagne or dinnertime dahl relates to climate change?
While we are hearing an increasing amount about the health risks associated with eating meat, and there
is growing awareness of animal suffering on factory farms, the connection between animal products and
the environment is less well known. Yet, animal agriculture is one of the leading contributors to
greenhouse gas emissions. It is also causing water shortages, widespread pollution, deforestation, land
degradation and wildlife extinction.
So vast and destructive is the industry that researchers at the University of Oxford released this study
stating that ‘eating a vegan diet could be the “single biggest way” to reduce your environmental impact on
Greenhouse gas emissions
Animals release methane, a gas that has a warming effect 86 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
Farmed animals produce such large amounts through their digestive process and manure, that animal
agriculture is considered one of two leading emitters of methane gas worldwide. The other is the
production of fossil fuels.
CO2 is produced when rainforests are destroyed to make way for grazing cattle or to grow crops for
feeding to farmed animals. According to Greenpeace, one hectare of Amazon rainforest is lost to cattle
ranchers every 18 seconds . This is the equivalent of six football pitches of ancient forest destroyed every
minute to create room for grazing cattle.
Meat diets use vast quantities of water, at least three times that of a vegan diet. It takes a whopping
15,500 litres of water to produce 1 kg beef, compared with just 180 litres for 1 kg of tomatoes and 250
litres for 1 kg of potatoes. Animal agriculture is also the biggest water polluter. Streams, rivers and
groundwater are polluted by slurry from cattle and other livestock.
Manure and slurry contain high levels of nitrogen and phosphor, which can leach into groundwater and
run off to pollute lakes, killing the fish and endangering the health of other animals. Ammonia is also given
off, which can cause acid rain.
Because animal farming is a key driver of habitat destruction, pollution and climate change, it is also a
driving force behind loss of wild species. Humanity has wiped out 60 percent of animal populations since
1970 and the three leading causes all relate to the consumption of animals: farming, eating wild animals
and fishing. Many scientists believe the world’s six mass extinction has begun – and it is caused by
Unless something is done and we change our habits, we will cause so much damage to the Earth that the
effect on future generations will be devastating. Going vegan is a simple and easy, yet effective way to play
your part in preventing this from happening.