Could you go meat-free, or even free of animal products all together, for Lent?
Did you know that the international livestock sector accounts for 15% of global greenhouse emissions, which is roughly the equivalent of all the exhaust emissions from every car, train and aircraft across the world?
This isn’t just from meat buying and consumption, but everything that goes with it. The carbon contribution of the animals themselves, deforestation to make way for livestock and the resources used to farm them all contribute to this significant total amount of climate impact.
The livestock sector in the UK are making changes to alter the climate impact of production. However, scientists still suggest that huge reductions in meat-eating are essential to avoid the climate change we are currently facing. Beef consumption in western countries would need to fall by 90% for us starting to make headway in changing the impact meat-eating has on the environment.
This isn’t just an issue we face now, but one which threatens swift increase in the future. At the current rate, we will struggle to produce enough food to feed the extra 2 billion people expected to be on the planet by 2050. If the impact of the meat industry continues to rise at the current rate, there is very little chance of capping the global rise in temperature at the 1.5° above pre-industrial levels needs to stop catastrophic impact. The impact meat production has on the environment simply isn’t sustainable.
When the impact of growth, production, shipping and cooking are combined, eating one kilogram of beef produces the same level of carbon emissions as driving 63 miles. The same amount of beans or tofu, however, is only the equivalent of driving 4.5 miles.
But, according to research, cutting meat out of your diet “probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases .
So, what changes can you make?
By taking up the challenge to go ‘meat-free’ for Lent, you will be committing to get rid of all meat from your daily diet. Sound simple? There are so many vegetarian and vegan alternatives, that are easily at your disposal.
There are lots of creative ways to start switching up your cooking habits, to cut meat out of your recipes. You could start by swapping meat options for beans and pulses, like lentils, kidney beans and chickpeas. These are a great source of protein, and also add fibre into your meals.
Vegetarian meat alternatives are also great substitutes, and can help you make your favourite meals whilst remaining meat free.
You could even try going one step further, and cutting out animal products all together. If this is a bit much for now, what about vegan Mondays? The opportunities are endless!
What difference will this really make?
By cutting meat out of your diet completely for the seven weeks of Lent, you will be reducing your climate impact by a significant amount. Per serving, meat based dishes have significantly higher CO2 emissions than plant based foods.
Cutting meat out of your diet for Lent could be a great first step into reviewing the impact of your dietary habits in a wider sense too. Where does your food come from? What is the impact of each meal? How often do small choices impact our daily habits? This is an opportunity to begin exploring the impact of what we eat on the climate, and to really make significant change.
Taking up this challenge for Lent doesn’t necessarily mean you need to go ‘meat-free’ forever. However, by taking one big step to kick start change, this is an opportunity to make one of the key shifts in our global lifestyle that will really contribute towards the change we need to see happen.
Look out for prayers, resources and recipe ideas coming your way throughout Lent, to help you commit to going meat free.
Want to do some more research? Check out the websites and articles below.