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Why Eating Less Meat Could Cut Global Warming

by 5m Editor
12 November 2007, at 10:07am

UK - What you choose to put on your plate can have a huge impact on the planet, reports Juliette Jowit.

It seems a surprising suggestion. Can it be true that what we put on our dinner plates could have an effect on global warming? It appears so. A new report is to warn the livestock industry generates 8 per cent of all UK greenhouse gas emissions - but that eating some meat is good for the planet. It will also say organic farming may be no better than intensive methods for reducing emissions, though organic practices have other advantages.

The report, which aims to be the most comprehensive study of the subject yet completed, claims a vegetarian diet including cheese, butter and milk would probably not noticeably reduce carbon emissions because dairy cows are a major source of the biggest greenhouse gas pollution from livestock - the methane released when cattle burp.

A vegan diet would be better, but it would ignore some benefits of rearing grazing animals, said Tara Garnett, from the Food Climate Research Network at Surrey University, who wrote the report. 'A little bit of livestock production is probably a good thing for the environment,' she said. 'Livestock provide a very important service in terms of maintaining landscape and soil quality and maintaining biodiversity: you get different animals grazing at different levels and if you didn't have them you'd have a very different landscape.'

Garnett said further research was needed to work out how much less meat should be eaten, but the report suggested it would be 'considerably less'. Next year Compassion in World Farming, an animal welfare group, will launch a fresh campaign urging people to eat less meat.

Source: GuardianUnlimited

Further Reading

- You can view a presentation on the subject by clicking here.

5m Editor