Recently, we wrote about the UN’s special report on climate change. More specifically, the group responsible is called the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Today, we would like to share an encouraging excerpt:
“Consumption of healthy and sustainable diets presents major
opportunities for reducing GHG emissions from food systems and improving health outcomes (high confidence). Examples of healthy and sustainable diets are high in coarse grains, pulses, fruits and vegetables, and nuts and seeds; low in energy-intensive animal-sourced and discretionary foods (such as sugary beverages); and with a carbohydrate threshold.”
The best way to achieve this healthy and sustainable diet is adopt a partly or fully vegan lifestyle. 3 Valley Vegans helps people in the upper Calder valley with our continued events, newsletters, social media and web pages.
Climate change and environmental breakdown: are our food habits the problem or solution?
Eat less red meat? white meat? dairy? fish? Eat more veg? fruit? Even ‘go vegan to save the planet’. The food we choose to eat, and the farming systems producing it, have a huge impact on climate as well as on soil, water and biodiversity.
Tim Benton, Professor at Chatham House and Ilkley resident, will give an authoritative national and global perspective followed by questions and discussion.
Professor Tim Benton is the director of the Energy, Environment and Resources Department at Chatham House. He joined Chatham House in 2016 as a distinguished visiting fellow, when he was also dean of strategic research initiatives at the University of Leeds. From 2011-2016 he was the “champion” of the UK’s Global Food Security programme which was a multi-agency partnership of the UK’s public bodies (government departments, devolved governments and research councils) with an interest in the challenges around food. He has worked with UK governments, the EU and G20. He has been a global agenda steward of the World Economic Forum and is an author of the IPCC’s Special Report on Food, Land and Climate (2019), and the UK’s Climate Change Risk Assessment.
Doors open at 19.15 and the talk will start promptly at 19.30.
Few will have missed the recent news reports about the awful spate of fires burning down vast areas of the Amazon rainforest, the generator of 20% of the world’s oxygen and home to 10% of the world’s known biodiversity. However, the media were less willing to attribute the cause to anything more than the Trumpian antics of Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro. What they rarely reported was that 91% of Amazonian land deforested since 1970 has been used for livestock (sic) pasture or that Brazil is the world’s largest beef exporter.
Brazil is also the world’s second largest producer of soybeans on land that has previously been used for cattle ranching. 90% of that crop is exported worldwide as animal feed for cattle, pigs and chickens and a third of all British soy imports are for that purpose. Your tofu and tempeh are not blameless in the Brazilian fires but meat and dairy consumption is many times worse, especially due to the inefficiency in feeding the soy to animals rather than to humans directly. More at Vegan Sustainability.
Even though few media outlets linked the Amazon fires to meat and dairy consumption, a recent YouGov poll of more than 2,000 people showed that over half of the British public believe that reducing meat consumption should be prioritised as a key way to slow down climate change. Reduction doesn’t mean elimination but at least this poll shows that people are making the link between meat and climate change even if Government ministers are less willing to advocate dietary change for the climate. Sadly, the poll also found that 37% of the population is unwilling to cut their meat intake at all. More from Edie.
Image: Amazon Fires seen from space. Credit: NASA Worldview.
The government is developing a new national food strategy for England and is now consulting with individuals, organisations and businesses. The strategy, which is due to be published in 2020, recognises that food production has a huge impact on the environment, human health and the economy. It acknowledges that the growth of the human population poses huge risks to the food and water supply and that there are new risks posed by anti-microbial resistance. All of these factors would be improved by a move to a sustainable plant-based food production system and this is your opportunity to influence the strategy.
The strategy will cover the entire food chain, from field to fork: the production, marketing, processing, sale and purchase of food (for consumption in the home and out of it), and the consumer practices, resources and institutions involved in these processes.
Requirements from the government
The government wants a food system that:
delivers safe, healthy, affordable food; regardless of where people live or how much they earn
is robust in the face of future shocks
restores and enhances the natural environment for the next generation in this country
is built upon a resilient, sustainable and humane agriculture sector
is a thriving contributor to our urban and rural economies, delivering well paid jobs and supporting innovative producers and manufacturers across the country
delivers all this in an efficient and cost effective way
Points you may wish to make
Comments should be 1000 words or fewer. You might like to choose from the following points or make your own comments:
The government has declared a climate emergency so now is the time to put this into action in this food strategy. Eating animal products has a huge environmental impact and it is clear that we will not be able to meet the Paris Agreement, and achieve net zero carbon emissions, unless as a nation we make a rapid move towards plant-based diets.
The recent IPCC report on land use (2019) says that we must change the way we produce food and manage land. Agriculture and forestry produces almost a quarter of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. With a growing population we cannot continue to use land in the same way and we are now very close to dangerous tipping points. Meat and dairy consumption will have to be cut and there needs to be a major shift to healthy and sustainable plant-based diets such as grains, pulses, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Plant-based foods require less land, less water, produce less pollution on land and in the sea, and produce far less greenhouse gases than animal-based foods.
Fish consumption should be cut drastically in order to prevent the loss of ocean biodiversity, habitat degradation and to reduce pollution (WWF, 2015). Ocean fishing produces nearly half of all plastic debris in the oceans (Lebreton, 2018). Fish farming isn’t the answer: farmed fish are treated with large amounts of pesticides and antibiotics to treat diseases, particularly sea lice, which are rife in such overcrowded conditions, further exacerbating the problem of antibiotic resistance in humans. The farms pollute the surrounding water with faeces and food waste, contaminating the water and producing methane, a potent greenhouse gas (Poore et al, 2018). One alternative for areas currently dependent upon fish farming is the move to properly managed seaweed farming which is currently underexploited in Europe (Campbell et al, 2019).
Poor diet is now the number one cause of death and disability in the UK resulting in a rising burden of obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer (Newton et al, 2015). Wholefood plant-based foods are healthier than meat and dairy and reduce the risk of these diseases which cost society billions, relieving pressure on the NHS and care sector (Fraser, 2009).
There should be a rapid move from subsidies that support animal farming to subsidies for plant-based foods such as vegetables, fruit, pulses and grains. This would help farmers to move to plant-based farming and improve the availability of healthy plant-based foods throughout the country.
Plant-based foods, particularly those produced without the use of animal manures, cause less food-borne infections than animal-based foods such as chicken and eggs. The move to plant-based foods would reduce the incidence of these diseases and therefore relieve the pressure on health care systems.
The move to a plant-based diet could be encouraged by implementing inclusive and sustainable policies for public sector institutions such as schools, hospitals and care homes to offer good vegan meals as standard on menus every day. Skills in cooking plant-based foods should be part of the school curriculum so that all children are able to create healthy and tasty meals.
Farmers should be supported financially and practically, in the move away from farming animals to producing sustainable plant crops or ecological restoration. The Vegan Society’s Grow Green campaign should be extended and widely promoted.
Animal Rebellion is a mass volunteer movement demanding that the government end the destructive animal farming and fishing industries, and lead a transition to a just, sustainable plant-based food system, to minimise the risk of climate breakdown, halt mass extinction and avert social collapse. In solidarity with Extinction Rebellion, Animal Rebellion will mobilise thousands of animal advocates for a two-week rebellion in London, beginning Monday, 7 October 2019.
Kerri Waters from Manchester Animal Rebellion was at Hope Baptist Church in Hebden Bridge on Thursday, 19 September to give a presentation about Animal Rebellion, why it is necessary and what it hopes to achieve. An audience of about 18 listened as Kerri set out with alarming clarity the extent of the damage already done to the planet and the life it sustains. Kerri focused on the key contribution of animal agriculture and fishing to the climate emergency and to the sixth major extinction event in which we find ourselves.
It is depressing stuff, and we’ve all seen a lot of it already, but the worst effects of the harm that humans have done can be averted if governments act quickly. Extinction Rebellion and Animal Rebellion are calling for establishment of People’s Assemblies to consider the science and bring forward proposals on how respond.
From 7 October, Animal Rebellion will be at Smithfield Market, where it will stage a fun, theatrical event, setting up a fruit and veg market outside the world famous meat market. They will not the challenging the workers at Smithfield, whose livelihoods depend on those jobs. This is in line with Animal Rebellion’s philosophy of inclusivity, keen to engage with farmers and meat eaters and avoid blaming and shaming.
Practical ideas were discussed to help people aiming to to go London for any part of the protest. A WhatsApp group has been set up for people looking for help with transport or accommodation. Facebook groups and pages and the Animal Rebellion website provide useful information and discussion to aid and support participation:
There is also the idea of holding an event in Hebden Bridge on Saturday, 12 October to draw attention to the action in London and explain its aims. An opportunity for those not able to get to London to make their own contribution to the effort. There are many ways to JOIN THE REBELLION!
On Saturday 10th August members of 3 Valley Vegans attended a rally in Bradford, the headquarters of Yorkshire Water, to urge the company to pull the plug on grouse shooting. Despite the rain it was an inspiring day. Why? Because the public are waking up to the horror that is grouse shooting.
An estimated 700,000 grouse are shot every year in Britain for ‘sport’. Grouse live on moorland and during a ‘shoot’ they are frightened by beaters who drive them towards men who shoot them. Many birds won’t be killed straight away and suffer a frightening and painful death. All so that very rich people (shoots often cost over a £5000 a day to participate in) can kill birds for fun.
Birds of prey and other animals such as badgers, stoats and weasels are also killed by snaring, poisoning and trapping. This is done by gamekeepers in order to reduce the number of young grouse killed before the shooting season starts.
Maintaining the moors for grouse shooting involves considerable environmental damage. Burning heather for instance alters the flow of water off the hills and contributes to flooding – something we know a lot about here in Calderdale. Burning also dries out the peat on the moorland resulting in increased losses of carbon from the soil into the atmosphere; at a time when we need to be storing more carbon in the soil if we want to reduce the effects of climate change.
Some say that grouse shooting brings money into an area but the evidence is clear: driven grouse shooting is a burden on the public purse (Sheffield Hallam University and Cormack Economics).
Yorkshire Water is a large land owner and they lease out 13 different moorland areas for grouse shooting. The money you pay to Yorkshire Water goes to fund this slaughter. Many people have contacted Yorkshire Water asking them to stop and demonstrations have taken place across the county.