I want to take this opportunity to talk about the current issue we all are facing with meat consumption. Even though many of us enjoy tucking into a juicy steak, we have to start to consider to reduce our consumption of it, or even better; become a vegetarian! This might sound unreasonable for some of you; however, hopefully, I will be able to convince you during this short text.
The consumption of meat has increased significantly throughout the world in recent decades with devastating consequences for both the environment and us consumers. In Sweden, the average consumption of meat is the staggering number of 85,5 kilos per person, and this number is quite similar to all of the industrial countries (Worldwatch.org, 2017). Some people may ask why meat would have a harmful impact on themselves since we have been eating it from the beginning and it has been a vital part of our existence. However, research has shown that the extreme amount of meat we eat on an average basis is leading to health-degrading conditions such as cardiovascular disease and if you are unlucky even cancer. And if this was not enough… The ever-increasing consumption has equally bad impacts on the environment on many different levels and areas. Some of the environmental effects that are connected with this current issue are habitat and biodiversity loss, carbon released by deforestation and fossil-fueled machinery, and land and water degradation (Rainforest-rescue.org).
I think most of us are aware of the deforestation that is currently happening in the Amazon rainforest. But for what exact reasons? Well, unfortunately, the rainforest is one of many areas that have to pay the price as the demand for meat is increasing. An estimated 65-80 % of the deforestation that has occurred in the last decade in the Brazilian part of the Amazon is due to cattle ranching (WWF.panda.org). The once beautiful forest with a rich and versatile plant and animal kingdom is slowly but surely decreasing alongside the land that gets transformed into a pasture for the cattle grazing.
These animals are then slaughtered and exported to countries in Europe but lately mainly to countries such as China and Russia, where the demand of meat has increased considerably in the last couple of years due to rising average individual incomes and by population growth (H. Charles et al., 2018). Moreover, this has a significant impact on the actual wildlife in the Amazon as well since other animals are forced to flee and in the worst-case scenario even become endangered. And as long as the demand for meat is increasing, the current pace of deforestation will continue if not increase even more. We have already lost around 17 % of the Amazon forest in the past 50 years, so it is time to turn this trend around (WWF.org).
Now when I have done some research on this subject and have an overall deeper insight of the current matter, I feel both ill at ease but strangely enough quite calm and collected. Even though the meat consumption is increasing, I think that the awareness regarding the environmental problems we are facing is growing throughout the whole world and that more and more people are trying to act more in an environmentally friendly way. However, many of us (including myself) have to begin to think about our consumption of meat and change our eating habits. And the most effective and easiest way to change something? Start with yourself! Replace, or at least decrease the weekly amount of meat with a more herbal diet which is much better for your health, our climate and our forests.
I know that I will!
Global Meat Production and Consumption Continue to Rise | Worldwatch Institute. (2017). Retrieved from http://www.worldwatch.org/global-meat-production-and-consumption-continue-rise
Industrialized meat production – rainforest on our plates – Rainforest Rescue. Retrieved from https://www.rainforest-rescue.org/topics/industrialized-meat-production-rainforest-on-our-plates#start
- Charles et al., (2018). Meat consumption, health, and the environment. Retrieved from http://science.sciencemag.org/content/361/6399/eaam5324
Unsustainable cattle ranching. (2018). Retrieved from http://wwf.panda.org/knowledge_hub/where_we_work/amazon/amazon_threats/unsustainable_catttle_ranching/
Ökande köttkonsumtion hotar klimatet. (2018). Retrieved from http://www.greenpeace.org/sweden/se/mat-och-jordbruk/Problemet/okande-kottkonsumtion-hotar-klimatet/
Deforestation | Threats | WWF. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/deforestation
Devlin, H. (2018). Rising global meat consumption ‘will devastate environment’. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jul/19/rising-global-meat-consumption-will-devastate-environment