Reducing Meat Consumption can Reduce the Risk of the Next Pandemic

Zoonotic diseases are nothing new and are often the cause of large outbreaks which cause great harm to humans and other animals. It’s speculated that the recent COVID-19 coronavirus popped into existence due to close animal – human contact in Chinese wet markets. History as shown us that wherever there is frequent, close contact between animals and humans there is an increase in the likelihood of new diseases. This has led to scientists calling for reduced meat conniption with the thinking that if eat less meat than the potential for human-animal transmission is reduced in markets and processing facilities.

This shouldn’t be that big of a challenge since people are already reducing their meat consumption and in Canada 10% of the population is vegetarian or vegan.

It is clear that the origins of these pandemics are not restricted to certain countries or certain practices, such as “wet-markets.” For some researchers, including Swedish chief physician and infectious diseases professor Björn Olsen, stemming rising demand for meat and dairy is a necessary part of reducing our risk for pandemics.

Olsen, who is well known for being an early critic of his government’s COVID-19 response, is now becoming known for another early warning — one he has been making in books and articles for nearly 10 years now. In a recent interview in Swedish, Olsen notes that pandemic viruses have all arisen where animals and humans meet, and raising billions of animals as food will have effects.

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Plant Based Diets Reduce Mortality, Increase Environmental Wellbeing

Phramacy

Obviously, a diet change to consume less meat is good for animal mortality but what you might not know is that a mass shift to plant based diet is good for everyone’s health. New research has identified that the pollution caused by meat production is responsible premature death of over 17,000 in the USA alone. Therefore, the more people who reduce their meat consumption the less harm will be done to people. Perhaps it’s time to cut subsidies to pollution intensive farms as we aim to reduce pollution and carbon output.

Yes, this is a global problem which requires systemic changes; however, you can do something about by simply switching your beef patties for any plant based ones.

The researchers estimated air quality deaths related to 95 different agricultural commodities in the United States, using data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Subsequently, they estimated the per-unit annual impact of 67 products from 11 food groups. Products ranged from beef to beans.

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Heavy Meat Eaters Eat Veggies When Given the Choice

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The meat industry is one of the leading drivers of the recent spat of fires in Brazil, and globally the meat industry is a major factor in the climate crisis. If we’re going to avert catastrophe we’re going to need people to change their diets in one simple way: cutting out meat. If people don’t want to cut out meat entirely, that’s ok, as long as they reduce their meat consumption. As a society we can reduce everyone’s meat consumption very easily by just providing meatless meals in cafeterias.

Emma Garnett and her colleagues at the University of Cambridge, UK, collected data on more than 94,000 meals sold in 3 of the cafeterias at the university in 2017. When the proportion of meatless options doubled from one to two of four choices, overall sales remained about constant. But sales of meat-containing meals dropped, and sales of vegetarian meals, such as “wild mushroom, roasted butternut squash and sun blushed tomato risotto with parmesan”, rose 40–80%.

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Americans Eating Beans Instead of Beef Will Help Save the World

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If Americans started eating beans in place of beef the country would be able to meet its greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goals by 2020. The report, title, “Substituting beans for beef as a contribution towards U.S. climate change targets,” builds off of previous work. The new report that makes this conclusion is similar to the conclusions from other papers; however, this report directly connects an easy dietary change to being able to avert catastrophic climate change. Previously we’ve seen how easy and beneficial it is to be vegetarian, but this diet change doesn’t require a complete shift to vegetarianism. Just reduce the consumption of flesh from dead animals.

It’s simple: the easiest thing you can do today to help the people of tomorrow is to eat less meat.

“The nation could achieve more than half of its GHG reduction goals without imposing any new standards on automobiles or manufacturing,” Sabate said.

The study, which was conducted while Harwatt was an environmental nutrition research fellow at Loma Linda University, also found that beef production is an inefficient use of agricultural land. Substituting beans for beef would free up 42 percent of U.S. cropland currently under cultivation — a total of 1.65 million square kilometers or more than 400 million square acres, which is approximately 1.6 times the size of the state of California.

Harwatt applauds the fact that more than a third of American consumers are currently purchasing meat analogs: plant-based products that resemble animal foods in taste and texture. She says the trend suggests that animal-sourced meat is no longer a necessity.

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China Aims to Decrease Meat Consumption by 50%

Consuming meat as part of your diet increases your carbon footprint by a large factor. It take a lot more energy to produce meat than it does to produce plants. Indeed, many institutions have called for people around the world to consume less meat while increasing their fruits and veggies intake.

China has issued new dietary guidelines that encourage less meat consumption in hopes that it frees up resources (land, energy, etc.) for other means. Given the size of China’s population even a small percentage of Chinese changing their diets will make a difference.

New dietary guidelines drawn up by China’s health ministry recommend that the nation’s 1.3 billion population should consume between 40g to 75g of meat per person each day. The measures, released once every 10 years, are designed to improve public health but could also provide a significant cut to greenhouse gas emissions.

Should the new guidelines be followed, carbon dioxide equivalent emissions from China’s livestock industry would be reduced by 1bn tonnes by 2030, from a projected 1.8bn tonnes in that year.

Globally, 14.5% of planet-warming emissions emanate from the keeping and eating of cows, chickens, pigs and other animals – more than the emissions from the entire transport sector. Livestock emit methane, a highly potent greenhouse gas, while land clearing and fertilizers release large quantities of carbon.

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