Are Non-vegetarians destroying the Planet?by Yash Saboo October 11 2017, 5:39 pm Estimated Reading Time: 2 mins, 52 secs
A new report, Appetite for Destruction, launched at the Extinction and Livestock Conference at London, says the consumption of animal products is leading to a vast and increasing amount of land being used for crops. According to WWF, excessive animal product consumption is responsible for 60 percent of all biodiversity loss, with the UK food industry alone directly linked to the extinction of an estimated 33 species.
Increasing consumption of meat is a problem faced in India too, where agriculture is considered as the backbone of most people. In the Indian context, culture, traditions, customs, and taboos influence meat consumption to a great extent. However, studies show that urbanization has been causing a rise in demand for meat products. India is the world’s second-largest exporter of beef. In India, 95% of goat meat produced is consumed locally.
Meat production is estimated at 4.9 million tonnes, standing eighth in rank in the world’s meat production. Buffalo in India contributes about 30% of total meat production. The contribution by cattle, sheep, goats and poultry is 30%, 5%, 10%, 10.2% and 11.5%, respectively.
Despite the enormous potential because of large livestock population, the meat industry in India has not taken its due share. Although India has acquired number one status in the world contributing 13% of world milk production, the meat production, which jibes well with dairying, is very low. During the last 25 years, it has increased from 764,000 tonnes in 1970-71 to 4.9 million tonnes valued at Rs. 21,900 crores (US $ 4,600 Million) (FAO, 2000, Planning Commission of India, 2001). The compound average growth rate during the last two decades works out to 4.6% as against 21% during the last 5 years which shows it that meat production is now the fastest growing segment of the livestock sector.
“The world is consuming more animal protein than it needs and this is having a devastating effect on wildlife,” Duncan Williamson, WWF food policy manager said in a statement.
If everyone on the planet reduced their animal product consumption to meet nutritional requirements, the total agricultural land required would decline by 13 percent, resulting in nearly 650 million hectares being saved from agricultural production.
According to The Guardian, if we really want to reduce the human impact on the environment, the simplest and cheapest thing anyone can do is to eat less meat. Behind most of the joints of beef or chicken on our plates is a phenomenally wasteful land-and-energy-hungry system of farming that devastates forests, pollutes oceans, rivers, seas, and air, depends on oil and coal and is significantly responsible for climate change.
The way we breed animals is now recognised by the UN, scientists, economists and politicians as giving rise to many interlinked human and ecological problems. But with 1 billion people already not having enough to eat and 3 billion more mouths to feed within 50 years, the urgency to rethink our relationship with animals is extreme. This will help solve the problem of overheating of the planet, deforestation, and will also help one save money and be free from diseases. For this, say the vegetarians, the meat eaters have increased chances of obesity, cancers, heart diseases and other illnesses as well as a hole in the pocket. A meat diet is generally considered twice as expensive as a vegetarian one.
Mr Williamson added, “For people and nature to thrive we need to consume and produce food differently. Eating less animal protein would allow us to farm in a more sustainable way, with less impact on the environment and healthier and more nutritious food.”