According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) latest data, every year each omnivorous Brit consumes roughly 85kg of meat, which amounts to 33 chickens, one pig, three-quarters of a sheep, or a fifth of a cow. Between 1961 and 2007, British meat consumption increased by 20%, and this trend shows no sign of stopping.
In response to growing meat consumption, global meat production has quadrupled since the early 1960s from 71 million tonnes to over 290 million tonnes in 2010 (FAO). This had led to approximately 70 billion farm animals now reared for human consumption each year.
Something needs to change. We have a real opportunity to inform today’s students about the damaging environmental consequences of meat-based food products. While it is important to note that meat products are not the sole producer of negative environmental consequence, the prominence and demand for animal-based produce is increasing and is therefore, creating a greater strain on the earth’s natural resources.
Though it is not justified, expected or anticipated that the Western world will adapt to a vegetarian diet full-time, it is within reason and a somewhat necessary step to suggest that a reduction in meat consumption is essential to ensure longevity of a sustainable environment. In response, the implementation of ‘Meatless Mondays’ or similar schools of thought within university outlets would propagate and resonate across the students of today.
A one-day-per-week adoption of plant-based meals within campus outlets would not only absorb student interest and support global sustainability, but would save money by replacing costly meat produce in place of less expensive alternatives such as beans, lentils and tofu.
Globally, the current livestock industry contributes 18% of human-produced greenhouse gas emissions – more than the entire contribution of transport (including air travel) and an area of land equivalent to the size of the European Union is used to grow feed for farm animals. The industry supplies the required demand – and by encouraging our food outlets to adopt an environmentally friendly ethos one day per week, we truly have the power to revolutionise the way our students see sustainability through food consumption. So, go meatless for just one day a week…
David Russell, is Founder and Chairman of the Russell Partnership.