However, since the beginning of the year I have avoided all other types of meat, unless it was snuck into my food without my knowing. And there are the little things that crumble my ethic. Like cheese. I previously thought it was all vegetarian. I even stupidly scoffed along with Tim at the 'vegetarian cheese' at the supermarket, because all cheese is vegetarian, isn't it? Then I learned about rennet, a cheese ingredient which is made from calf stomach, and ate my words. Fortunately there are resources like the Vegetarian Network Victoria, which, as part of it's vast wealth of veggie information, includes a page on brands and types of rennet-free cheese.
I understand that not everyone wants to change their eating habits based on animal ethics, and that's certainly fair enough. But I also think that we should make informed decisions, and most people aren't aware of the environmental effects of eating meat.
Raising pigs, chickens, cows and other animals for food is "one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global." (source: UN report: Livestock's Long Shadow) Avoiding meat is the most effective thing we can do to help climate change, even before switching our car to a hybrid. Why?
- Every kilogram of beef uses up to 16,000 litres of water to make.
- Our rainforests are being destroyed for cattle grazing land at a rate of one football field per second. We need rainforests to supply oxygen, absorb carbon dioxide and moderate our climates.
- Livestock produces 130 times more waste than we do and it's poisoning water, air and land.
- One third of all fossil fuel in the US is used to raise animals for food.
- Cattle produces one fifth of methane emissions, which is 24 times more damaging then carbon dioxide to the environment.
There is an incredible amount of other ethical reasons to decrease your meat intake, but I think I've exhausted my preaching allowance for today. If you're interested, you can find out more at these great sites:
Vegetarian Network Victoria