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Environmental impact of the meat industry

Did anyone else watch last night's BBC documentary?  I thought it was very well done.  It scrupulously avoided emotional arguments, and showed us the many ways industrial-scale meat production is damaging the planet.  Loss of wilderness, especially rainforest; pollution of earth, inland waterways and seas by livestock faeces and urine; increased greenhouse effect from methane emitted by livestock; loss of insect diversity due to monocultures; loss of marine life by overfishing to provide protein concentrates for cattle feed, and world hunger due to feeding crops to livestock instead of growing crops we can eat ourselves.

It was a bit thin on solutions, but that would have made a longer programme.  Pity they didn't make a second programme to look into that.

What did the rest of you think of it?  Or about the issues generally, if you didn't see the programme?


  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 22,737
    Didn't watch it so don't know whether the programme pointed out that in Europe, the clearing of forests to make pasture and arable land was done millenia ago so is not a current carbon cost and there's plenty of research to show that diet can make the bovine digestive system far more efficient and also more comfortable for the critters themselves - certain seaweed additives, length of the fibrous stems in their food mix and biochar additives.

    A lot of the land where sheep, deer and reindeer roam in the UK and upland Europe is not arable so lose the animals and lose the habitat.  Studies show that free range pigs emit half as much carbon as intensively reared pigs and I expect the same is true of poultry.

    I don't want to see a world with all the livestock, rare breed or common, either gone or restricted to a tiny genetic pool in zoo farms.  Nor do I want to see all land turned over to monocropping.  I enjoy eating meat and poultry and eggs and cheese along with plenty of fruit and veg and occasional cereals.   

    As with any other aspect of life, reason rather than excess should be the rule and we should be prepared to pay a reasonable price for farm produce and foods and also use it better with less waste.  It's the constant drive to lower prices which does a great deal of harm.

    It is also a well documented fact that there is more global food supply wasted in bad harvesting, bad storage, bad transport and bad distribution caused by poverty, bad management, bad governance and war and that fixing those would fix a lot of the world food shortage problem faster than waiting for solutions to global warming and would reduce pressure on rainforests.     
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • chickychicky SurreyPosts: 9,259
    I didn't see the programme, but am aware that lots of things are going to have to change, and fast.  If it managed to convey that without emotional arguments then it is a rare, and enviable thing.

    In my understanding, lots of these problems have solutions...… its just implementing them that's the problem.  People don't like to change their ways.

    Puts tin hat on and ducks ……..
    We did not inherit the earth from our grandparents.  We’re borrowing it from our children.
  • punkdocpunkdoc Sheffield, Derbyshire border.Posts: 8,673
    I didn't see the program, and I come from a committed carnivore background, but it is becoming clearer to me, that we cannot continue as we are, if we want the planet to remain habitable.
    If land is only able to be used to grow grass, then rearing animals is fine, if land is suitable for arable, then more arable needs to be grown.
    I don't think it is acceptable any more, to say I like beef and I will eat it every day.
    The small changes I have made personally: 1 vege meal a week, 2 fish meals a week and only 1 red meat meal a week, are I am sure not enough, but they are a start.
    Walk out to winter, swear I'll be there.
    Chill will wake you, high and dry
    You'll wonder why.
  • B3B3 Posts: 15,445
    I eat meat. I agree we eat too much meat for our own health and the health of the planet. Meat should be a treat, not a part of every meal. Says she who's just put a beef casserole in the oven.
    In London. Keen but lazy.
  • I didn't see the program either but would agree that there is definitely a problem with the amount of meat we rear for consumption.
    As countries such as India, China, etc. have become richer, the meat consumption has risen there so it really is a global issue.
    Sorry to pinch your thread Josusa but I was listening to a radio program re Palm Oil. It has been featured before with regard to rain forest destruction but it would seem in some cases that it can, and is in places, environmentally sustainable.
    One thing that did jump out at me was that the UK invested 5 billion £'s in the Dem. Rep. of Congo in a Palm Oil company.  It now seems that the company have been polluting local water sources and not paying attention to the health and safety of their workers.  They proudly announced that they have spent something in the region of 3 hundred thousand dollars( per year or  over the last few years  - not sure ) to improve things for their workers and the environment.  I am necessarily paraphrasing but the difference in money invested and money spent doesn't seem to add up.
  • Like Lizzie27 says, it's not just the animals, there are a lot of us as well actively polluting the planet. But you cannot tell people to procreate at a tamer pace, that's for sure, everyone has the right to as many children as they want. However, better education would be a start. And when it comes to animals, there are solutions, implementing them is the issue here as people are indeed stuck in their ways, especially in poor countries.
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 22,737
    NO!  People have the right to the number of children they can afford and accommodate and bring up responsibly!
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 65,341
    edited November 2019
    I didn’t watch the programme but I am well aware of the issues. As you say, intensive mass production of grain fed meat is bad for the planet (and I would also argue, bad for our individual health). 

    However I am convinced of the argument that non intensive rearing of grass-fed beef and lamb is one of the most carbon-efficient ways in which we can produce food from some areas of land. 

    I am also convinced that wastage in the food industry has to be radically addressed ... it is appalling that many people, whilst perfectly happy to eat prime cuts of meat turn up their noses at lesser cuts and offal.  

    While I accept most meat eaters would do well to reduce their meat intake I am convinced that nose to tail eating of locally produced grass-fed beef and lamb/mutton can be part of an ecologically sustainable system in the UK. 
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 22,737
    Well, the bits of nose to tail I don't want to eat end up as "gourmet" dishes at silly prices in fancy restaurants or go into pet foods and fertilisers but I suppose we'll next be told we can't have pets either.   
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
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