I apologise in advance to farmers, but I’m afraid we are going to have to grab the bull by the horns and stop him from procreating. We can make a difference to climate change by doing our own little bit. If we stopped eating so much meat, we could help reduce greenhouse gases. But how easy will it be for the Great British public to stop eating meat twice a week I wonder? Not easy at all I suspect, given that “meat and two veg” is ingrained into our psyche even if we have diversified hugely since then and even know what “penne” is these days. The thing is, I had no idea quite how astonishingly damaging to our environment the collective cow fart is. 28% of all greenhouse gases are caused by intensive farming – most of those emissions emanate from nitrogen fertilisers and cows releasing methane gas, as well as the removal of forests to make way for more farm animals. Every 1kg of meat protein requires the same amount of energy to produce as between 3kg and 10kg of vegetable protein and according to the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation, emission from farming, forestry and fisheries had almost doubled over the last 50 years and are expected to increase a further 30% by 2050.
That said, how many people eat meat every day? Chickens don’t fart quite so much and neither do sheep. How many tines a week do actually eat beef on average I wonder? Of course we have to include our spaghetti bolognaise, shepherd’s pie (yes I know meant to be with lamb but mostly isn’t) and Boeuf Bourguignon. I think we need to do a national audit and then aim to reduce it, household by household. If charity can begin at home then so can saving the planet.
If we all did stop eating meat at least twice a week then we could make a significant difference, so I’m going to start cooking more vegetarian meals – I was given a great Vegetable Cook Book for my birthday last year called “River Cottage Veg Every day” by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and the Ottolenghi cookbooks also have loads of great vegetarian recipes. But hey, even Delia Smith can help us make a cauliflower cheese, or a ratatouille. I’ve just got to find a way to get my kids onboard. Numero three child eats no vegetables at all except sweet corn and that doesn’t make a very interesting meal.
ALSO another very good reason to cut down on our meat consumption is the alarming news about the over use of antibiotics and how we might actually be putting our lives at risk by eating rare steak and undercooked meat owing to the prevalence of superbugs that have built up a resistance to the antibiotics.
So anybody else happy to give it a go? If you come across any great recipes, then do please let me know.