The publication of our report, “Eating the Planet?,” is generating interest and contributing significantly to the debate about how we’re going to feed the world’s growing population without factory farming.
For example, Joanna Blythman, the investigative food journalist and author, Bad Food Britain and The Food We Eat, wrote in the Scottish Sunday Herald:
“Compassion In World Farming, the impeccably well-informed and thoughtful animal welfare organisation, and Friends Of The Earth, our foremost environmental group, argues that we don’t need to go veggie to feed a booming world population and save the planet from climate change and forest destruction. It says that we can indeed produce enough food for everyone in the world, but only if we are prepared to ditch factory farming for more natural and humane farming methods.”
As the year progresses and the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen approaches, I’m increasingly aware of a significant shift in thinking among policy makers, legislators and the public toward understanding why factory farming is cruel to animals, inefficient in food production and significantly contributes to global warming.
For example, in October Lord Stern, author of the British government’s 2006 review on the Economics of Climate Change, told The Times that “Meat is a wasteful use of water and creates a lot of greenhouse gases. It puts enormous pressure on the world’s resources. A vegetarian diet is better.”
Later that same month, Lester Brown, founder of the WorldWatch Institute and Earth Policy Institute, gave our annual Peter Roberts Memorial Lecture and called for a reduction in meat and dairy consumption to fight climate change. He reaffirmed last year’s speaker, Dr Rajendra Pachauri, Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, who said, “One kilo of beef is responsible for the equivalent of the amount of CO2 emitted by the average European car for every 250 kms.”
And then, in late November, one of the world’s leading medical journals, The Lancet, published a report highlighting the climate change and human health benefits of reducing meat production and consumption by 30%. Entitled The health benefits of tackling climate change, it said that reducing adult consumption of animal products by 30% would lead to a 15% reduction in heart disease in the UK alone. I blogged about the growing weight of evidence that less is more, particularly when it comes to livestock products and how this can have huge benefits to animal welfare as well as fighting climate change and public health issues.
Also, we shouldn’t forget that earlier this year Swedish authorities set out draft guidelines calling for people to reduce their carbon footprint by eating less meat and in Ghent, Belgium, residents are encouraged to have meat free Thursdays.
As Joanna Blythman noted:
“In other words, we have a choice. We can continue to breed high-yielding, “efficient”, fast-maturing livestock and fatten them up in no time with profligate quantities of grain that would be better fed to humans – just to produce unprecedented volumes of low-grade industrial meat, while trashing the planet in the process – or we can return to rearing livestock on a much smaller scale, using a traditional, extensive farming approach.”
Yes, we do have a choice. To help others make a choice, please download our new report, Eating the planet?