For the Love of Animals (and Our Planet)
Love our planet

It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost two years since coronavirus took over so many aspects of our lives and we were being encouraged to work from home. In the UK, it’s been about 18-months since the start of fitful partial and complete lockdowns. 

 

By March 2021, a staggering 3.2 million British households had acquired lockdown pets. The Brits have always been renowned for their love of animals, and no commuting or travelling made being a pet owner more possible for many.  So it comes as no surprise that the number of vegans in the UK also increased by 445,428 people (40%) over the past 12 months. 

 

Call me a cliche, but as soon as my former employer closed their London offices, the first thing I did was buy two kittens. It was the perfect time to train a couple of fur babies and I had all the time to prepare for their imminent arrival. But what I wasn’t prepared for were the big changes that were coming my way. Becoming a cat-mom changed the way I viewed animals, farming practices and the dairy industry. It ultimately changed my relationship with food: I soon gave up eating meat and I’m now an 80/20 vegan. 

 

Common thinking is that wind turbines and driving electric cars will achieve carbon net zero. But actually, in giving up meat, I’m doing more for the environment than I realized. 

 

TIRED OF THE B.S. 

We’re told that electricity is the most harmful player in today’s environment. And whilst that’s true, it’s only by a slim percentage. Yes, electricity production is the leading cause of climate change, responsible for 25% of all annual  greenhouse gas emissions (GhG). However, agriculture comes in at a close second at a whopping 24%!  

 

If you consider that manufacturing comes in third (at 21%), it’s important to understand how agriculture contributes to climate change. 

 

Put simply, when cows belch and pass wind, they release methane – a potent GhG – which starves the air of carbon and traps heat in the atmosphere. According to the Environmental Defense Fund, twenty years after its initial release, methane becomes 84 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. 

 

“Each year, a single cow will belch about 220 pounds of methane. Methane from cattle is shorter lived than carbon dioxide but 28 times more potent in warming the atmosphere.” – Frank Mitloehner, Professor and Air Quality Specialist, University of California. 

 

With about 1.4 billion cattle on earth, it’s clear to see agriculture’s 24% impact on climate change. 

 

EAT TO BEAT CLIMATE CHANGE 

In 2003, Meat-Free Mondays was born. People actively stripped their Mondays of meat, mainly for health reasons. But, each Meatless Monday helps reduce an individual’s carbon footprint by eight pounds. And with all the plant-based meat alternatives now available, Meat-Free Mondays don’t have to feel like a sacrifice. 

 

In fact, Bill Gates – in his 2021 blockbuster book, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster – encourages wealthier nations to only consume synthetic beef. 

 

Health experts advise that a plant-based diet is better for our hearts. And the impact it has on the environment? Well, that’s the cherry on top. I like to think that for me, it all started with these guys. 

 

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