Reforming agricultural practices will do far more to save the planet than token gestures

Cow [Image: Creative Commons CC0]

Earth Hour; World Environment Day, National Green Week are just a few of the many prominent events that reoccur periodically due to growing awareness of the fragility of our planet. What many people are unaware of is how much more is needed to secure a stable future. Despite having sincere intentions, one hour, day or week of environmental considerations are not even close to enough. We must acknowledge the greater changes that are needed for a reverse in this catastrophic cycle of climate change. Humans are capable of extraordinary change. We need to devise a permanent life style change which goes beyond the sincere actions of these lowly isolated hours, days, or weeks. Failure to take such steps risks global catastrophe.

Pastoral farming is one such area we must reform. It is responsible for over half, 51 per cent, of anthropogenic climate change; 30 per cent of the global water consumption; and occupies 45 per cent of Earth’s Land. It is also responsible for 91 per cent Amazon deforestation and is the leading cause of ocean dead zones, habitat destruction, and species extinction. Reducing the use of fossil fuels and minimizing waste by recycling, limiting your water usage and advocating alternatives to non-renewable energy are all beneficial for preserving the planet. The food industry, however, must be an immediate priority for change.

UK Food Based dietary guidelines state: “Eat at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day. Include potatoes, bread, rice, pasta, or other starchy carbohydrates; choosing wholegrain versions where possible. Have some dairy or dairy alternatives, such as soya drinks, choosing lower fat and lower sugar options.” Here we see no specific recommendation for animal products, as they also suggest “dairy alternatives”. The UN’s Eat well guide also clearly states we should “eat less red and processed meat”. Reforming our agricultural practices would both do far more to benefit the planet than more tokenistic, albeit well meaning, gestures and still allow us to live healthy, fulfilling lives.