Oct. 2 was World Day for Farmed Animals when activists around the world draw attention to the devastating impacts of animal agriculture on animals, our health, and our environment. The campaign was launched in 1983 by Alex Hershaft, a Holocaust survivor and founder of Farm Animal Reform Movement, to memorialize and mourn the billions of animals killed for food world-wide each year. While the suffering of farmed animals is rarely given proper consideration as a serious ethical issue, perhaps the irrefutably devastating environmental impacts of animal farming will encourage us to think hard about our dietary choices.
This summer Oxford University released the findings of a comprehensive study of the food sector’s impact on global warming. The food sector produces roughly one-third of global GHG emissions and has been notoriously difficult to decarbonize. Oxford researchers concluded that a global switch to diets that rely less on meat and more on fruits and vegetables could save up to 8 million lives by 2050, reduce greenhouse gasses by two thirds and lead to healthcare savings. It could also avoid climate-related damages of $1.5 trillion.1.
According to lead researcher Professor Peter Scarborough, “Our results, which use data from over 38,000 farms in over 100 countries, show that high meat diets have the biggest impact for many important environmental indicators, including climate change and biodiversity loss. Cutting down the amount of meat and dairy in your diet can make a big difference to your dietary footprint.”2. The new research showed that vegan or plant-based diets resulted in 75% less climate-heating emissions, water pollution and land use than diets in which more than 100g of meat a day was eaten. Vegan diets also cut the destruction of wildlife by 66% and water use by 54%, the study found.3. The Oxford University study is the first to pinpoint the difference high- and low-meat diets have on greenhouse gas emissions. It is the latest research to suggest that a wholesale shift away from animal products is critical to meeting Paris Agreement targets of keeping global temperatures below a 1.5°C rise over pre-industrial levels.
As we come to terms with climate change, pandemics, and economic instability, prioritizing and investing in plant-based and alternative protein sectors is not just an option — it’s a necessity. We are all experiencing the catastrophic effects of climate change at an alarming pace and scale, but changing what’s on our plates is an easy and impactful way to be part of the solution.
Please visit dayforanimals.com for more information.