One of the biggest threats in the battle against the climate crisis is the modern Western diet. Meat consumption has grown exponentially for decades,, which has enabled a massive worldwide industry to cater to our needs. Unfortunately, this has lead to several disastrous effects on the climate crisis. Aside from the corresponding rise in health issues related to a meat-heavy diet, cattle requires a lot of land to be packed into, so one of the biggest causes of deforestation in the Amazon is due to cattle ranchers clearing space for their animals. Factory farms mean animals are packed together in shocking conditions and the methane generated by these animal's effluvia are among the most dangerous greenhouse gasses in the world. Finally, the slaughter of these animals creates runoff that creates a toxic environment for the communities around the slaughterhouses.
Thankfully, people are starting to take notice of the effect their diets have on the world. Small studies out of Britain have shown that as many as 40 percent of Brits are reducing meat in their diets as a way to fight against the climate crisis. The poll of 2,000 adults found that 75% planned on changing at least one lifestyle habit over the next year to become more eco-friendly, with a fifth planning to eat more locally-grown food and 18% wanting to grow their own. Cutting meat and dairy from your diet can reduce your carbon footprint by two-thirds, according to a study by Oxford University.
“We don’t want to tell people what to eat,” says Hans-Otto Pörtner, an ecologist who co-chairs the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) working group on impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. “But it would indeed be beneficial, for both climate and human health, if people in many rich countries consumed less meat, and if politics would create appropriate incentives to that effect.”
It's not just food either. People are planning on buying more sustainable clothes, swapping harsh cleaning products for more eco-friendly products and using more sustainable hygiene products.
The best part is that it's so easy. If anyone just swapped a single meat based meal with a plant one, they would save millions of tons of greenhouse gas emissions.