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Diets and climate change

Dietary change ‘is essential’ if we are to meet new climate change target, says The Vegan Society
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
Diets and climate change

If the UK is to have any chance of meeting its new climate change target then it must encourage a significant shift away from animal products, says The Vegan Society.

Falling short of targets

Yesterday (30 June) the UK announced its commitment to cutting carbon emissions by 57% (from 1990 levels) by 2032. Yet according to the government’s official climate change advisors, the current policies – which focus narrowly on the energy, transport and waste sectors – will fall well short of those required for the new target.

Meanwhile, animal agriculture continues to be ignored at a policy level. This is despite it being one of the leading causes of climate change, responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions (at least 14.5%) than all global transport – cars, trains, planes, ships – combined, says The Vegan Society.

‘What we desperately need is a public education campaign on the disastrous environmental impact of animal agriculture. Most people in this country still have little idea that the production of meat, fish and dairy products is destroying the planet.

‘Policies and initiatives are needed, too. If we want a blueprint then look to China, which recently announced its plan to reduce meat consumption by 50% to tackle climate change. China is really leading the way on this, and we should follow.’

Spokesperson for The Vegan Society

’Best for the planet’

Animal agriculture emits high levels of CO2 – around 3.2 million tonnes every year – through activities such as land change, feed production and manure management.

Cattle also produce large amounts of methane, a highly potent greenhouse gas: your average cow produces around 700 litres of methane per day, the equivalent of a large 4×4 vehicle travelling 35 miles in a day.

‘Animal agriculture doesn’t just contribute to climate change. It is also widely regarded as one of the leading causes of deforestation, habitat loss, species extinction, water consumption and ocean dead zones. Going vegan is the single best thing any individual can do to help secure the future of our planet.’

Spokesperson for The Vegan Society

Research by leading international think tank Chatham House last year identified animal agriculture as a primary driver of climate change, warning that ‘dietary change is essential’ if global warming is to not exceed the 2ºC limit imposed at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris.

There have also been repeated calls by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation for a global shift towards a vegan diet. In its 2006 landmark report, animal agriculture was described as ‘one of the most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global.’

Click here to take The Vegan Society’s 30-Day Vegan Pledge and to find out more about switching to a vegan diet.

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