The Kindest Cut Simple ways to reduce your environmental footprint as you shop and cook.
Reducing the amount of meat you eat – even a little – can have a positive impact on your environmental footprint,
Did you know Australians eat an average of 92kg of meat per person annually? That’s about triple the global average. “Such excessive meat consumption comes at a significant cost, especially to the environment,” says Matthew Evans, host of SBS TV’s
Gourmet Farmer and For The Love of Meat documentary series. Evans is a passionate advocate for responsible meat-eating and holds that, while it’s not necessary for everyone to become a vegetarian, it is important we all consider the impact of what we’re eating.
“I personally choose to eat meat and to raise livestock for meat,” he says, “but I’m of the view that Australians don’t need to eat anywhere near the amount of meat we currently do. The planet would benefit greatly if we could minimise our consumption.”
Globally, it’s estimated that the livestock sector is responsible for a minimum of 51 per cent of all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, says Cassie Duncan, general manager of Sustainable Table, a not-for-profit organisation devoted to educating Australians on ethical eating. A 2015 study by the Barilla Centre for Food & Nutrition concluded a diet that is vegetarian five days per week and
‘UP TO 60 PER CENT OF OUR PERSONAL ECO FOOTPRINT IS EMBODIED IN THE FOOD WE BUY. THERE’S NO BETTER PLACE TO START REDUCING OUR ENVIRONMENTAL
I M PAC T.’ CASSIE DUNCAN, SUSTAINABLE TABLE
includes meat two days per week could save up to 2218L of water and 2.9kg of carbon-dioxide emissions per person per day.
The impacts of methane emissions and land degradation by livestock are well documented, says Evans, but for him the most pressing concern is how much grain is grown to feed animals, which we then eat. “Really, we should just eat that grain ourselves.”
Over the past few years, ‘meat-free Mondays’ and similar campaigns have grown in popularity and reach. That’s a great thing, says Evans. “What’s really nice is that it’s not only acceptable, it’s actually quite laudable to say, ‘I’m having a meat-free Monday.’ As recently as 10 years ago, people might have looked at you like you were some kind of rabid hippie!”
His argument is that you can love eating meat and not even miss it one day a week. “If you eat good-quality meat with great flavour that’s cooked properly, how much do you really need?”