Less is more: How eating less meat is good for all of us

My name is Matt and I’m a carnivore, I like nothing more than chowing down on my favourite quarter pounder with sweet corn relish, and it seems I’m not alone. In the UK we love burgers, but do we know much about  the links between what we eat and what it does to the planet?

A new study has been published, as reported by the BBC today, which says that the way we are eating is not sustainable in the long term. It suggests that as well as eatiburger imageng less meat, particularly beef, we need to get better at wasting less food and eating more healthily. The combination of these factors will be good for all of us and for the planet.

Changing our habits, especially the ones we love, is not an easy thing, but the rewards and the significance of doing it in this case are huge.

It’s clear that we are a meat loving nation, but, if we want to keep enjoying our way of life then we will have to rethink how we live. We need to eat less meat, waste less food and eat more healthily. If we don’t, the report suggests that our carbon emissions will go through the roof, which, as well as damaging the environment in the UK, also has an impact on those living in poverty across the world.

At Tearfund we have been, and remain committed to campaigning and advocating for policy change when it comes to matters of the planet and climate change. But we are also convinced that our lifestyles, values and behaviour are also important. We need change at both a local and international level, and we can be a part of the change we want to see in the world.

So if you want to start making some small changes that can have a big impact, why not follow some of these handy tips.

Top Tips

Less is More. Meat is a good thing, but we simply need to eat it less, savouring it when we can but saving money and helping to save the planet, a real win win. Why not try going one day a week without meat or if you are feeling really ambitious why not try living below the line for a week!

Growing Veg is fun. Just look at this great example of a movement called Incredible Edible. If we have more connection to something, we value it more. If you don’t have access to an allotment, then what about growing in your garden? The Eat seasonably website is a great resource for wannabe growers!

Vegetarian Food is a lot more delicious and nutritious than we might think. Rice and dahl is simple and delicious and does not need meat. There are loads of great recipes out there.

Read someone’s experience of changing the way they eat by checking out Ruth Valerio’s blog. She writes brilliantly and also has lots of great recipes.

Love Food Hate Waste offer lots of great ideas and recipes as well.

Comments

  1. Great blog Matt. My name is Jonny and I’m an ethical omnivore – I eat a reduced quantity, and an increased quality, of meat for reasons of animal welfare, environmental stewardship, human health and fairness.

    I believe the quality side of things is crucial when it comes to looking at the meat (and other animal products) we eat. Generally speaking, the cheaper the meat the lower the animal welfare standards, the higher the carbon emissions, the greater the use of antibiotics (with all the human health implications that that entails) and the lower the labour standards at all stages of the food chain.

    In fact, it’s (artificially) cheap precisely because much of the real cost is offset in all of the ways mentioned above.

    On the other hand, meat that meets these criteria – humane, sustainable, healthy and fair – particularly via the organic standard, is not more expensive for the sake of it, but rather because that reflects the real cost of producing it.

    In this and every other aspect of out consumption, we have to really deal with the ‘cheaper is always better’ mantra. It’s not. We need to be basing our eating, and everything else, primarily on principles and values, as well as profits and value.

    I explore these themes further in this article on my blog: http://peopleplanetprophet.com/articles/planet-care-people-care-fair-share/

    Two other quick points.

    The study you mentioned mostly refers to beef produced intensively, either via a feedlot where cattle are pumped full of grain instead of grass, or from areas – such as the Amazon – where forest is razed for cattle ranching. Both cases produce beef that is financially cheap in the short term but socially and environmentally expensive in the long run. Alternatively, beef fed on grass, especially on marginal land that can’t produce crops, is relatively benign in ecological terms, if it’s stocked correctly and managed sustainably. Done in the right way like this, cattle grazing can actually help to store carbon in the soil!

    While we Christians often don’t like to talk about it, the animal welfare side of things should not be forgotten in this debate. Factory farming treats animals like pieces of machinery, instead of living, sentient beings, created by God to glorify him. Eating less and better also addresses this issue. There is more on this aspect of things in another blog of mine: http://peopleplanetprophet.com/2013/10/01/eating-dog-a-guide-for-christians/#more-127

    Like you, I love eating meat. Last week it was chicken, this week it’s bef, next week is bacon. And as an ethical omnivore, it tastes all the better because I know that it is sustainable, humane, healthy and fair.

  2. Richard Avery says:

    We buy veg and meat from Riverford who supply organic boxes. Yes – it is expensive but produced with minimum impact on the planet and we can keep cost down by using daal, rice etc ( see ethical omnivore’s post). They have just won The Observer Ethical Producer award and Guy Watson, the founder and owner, quoted Deuteronomy in his last newsletter ( they open their fields to a Gleaning charity that supply food banks).

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  1. […] I have been really challenged about what I am eating but also as well as what we reduce, how we can also be positive and be more open to being generous […]

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