A plant-based diet is number 4 on Project Drawdown’s top 100 solutions to fighting climate change. I’m going to add in one or two more of their top 100, starting with this post, otherwise it’ll take a looong time to get to all 100!
According to Project Drawdown;
in a 2016 study, business-as-usual emissions could be reduced by as much as 70 percent through adopting a vegan diet and 63 percent for a vegetarian diet, which includes cheese, milk, and eggs.
This is primarily because of methane emissions from factory farmed cattle, and other animals that we consume directly, or because of their products, like milk and eggs. Methane is a more powerful driver of global warming than C02. Since the dreaded IPCC report says that we need to drop emissions by 50% in 11 years, if everybody adopted even a vegetarian diet including cheese, milk and eggs, we’d hit the goal. Of course, that won’t happen, so we do need to do other things too.
And this is setting aside both the ethical concerns of factory farming, and the polluting effects of all the fertilizers, etc. needed to raise factory farmed animals, and their waste products. This is just the climate change part of how bad factory farming is.
Consider also that a diet consisting of less meat is also healthier, resulting in less cardiovascular disease;
Here’s the link to the Project Drawdown page;
So what are some things that we can do? And, yes, becoming a vegan would be best, but there are less drastic changes to our diets that we can make.
Become a flexitarian/reducetarian; here’s an article from Treehugger
Doing “meatless Monday” is a start. It won’t be enough, but it’s a start. If you have meat at every meal (bacon and eggs for breakfast, luncheon meat sandwich, beef or ham for dinner), consider starting to switch out at least one of those meals for something else; beans for lunch, for example.
Look at regional cuisines for inspiration and recipes; I had a superb mushroom and pea “stew” with cashew sauce from the “Gandhi’s Choice” section of the menu from a local Indian restaurant. Meat would have been superfluous. Bean recipes from Mexico and South America, many Thai dishes can be prepared with meat substitutions, and vegetarian sushi is very tasty.
There are also a number of meat substitutions coming on the market; the “Impossible Burger” at A&W and other fast food franchises, for one, which I have yet to try, and Field Roast puts out a gluten and potato based sausage that satisfies my hot dog cravings (microwave for one minute and done!). Eat these “meatless meats” in moderation though, because they tend to be heavy on the sodium.
Consider switching from dairy milk to almond, cashew or oat beverages. Almonds use a lot of water, so if you are concerned with that, cashew or oat might fill the bill for you. A plus is that almond and cashew “milk” are about half the calories of dairy milk. I’ve lost about 10 lbs since switching to almond milk.
When only meat or dairy will satisfy you however (and I have yet to give up yogurt or cheese) you can consider the source; there are more, and less, ethical sources of both. If you can, look for smaller butcher shops which may carry wild game, or more humanely raised meat animals; smaller hobby farms, for example, which are pasture fed, rather than factory farmed. Pastured animals still fart of course, but there are fewer of them.
I get my cheese and yogurt from small, artisanal (I hate that word, but that’s what they are) farms that have pasture fed cows, and the yogurt source has returnable glass jars, and powers their little onsite factory from the methane from the cow manure, so it becomes a closed loop. For eggs, look for small farms with free range chickens (I get my eggs from my vet, who has a hobby farm with about 20 hens that scratch around in the yard).
Number 9 on Project Drawdown is “silvopasture”; the practice of pasturing livestock in a mixed use landscape;
And number 19 is “managed grazing”, which is much more common than silvopasture
These farming methods restore the landscape, so consider sourcing meat from these types of farms.
Finally, on the benefits of managed grazing, a TED talk on reversing desertification