Food for Thought
1st March 2016
Ever thought about what goes into that tasty burger you’ve eaten? Now I’m not just talking about what meat it was, or if there was some lettuce and tomato in it, what about how the animal has been treated from birth to slaughter? What about the effect the consumption of meat and dairy is having on our environment?
Festivals such as DGTL in Amsterdam and Shambala have gone meat free, as well as football clubs like Forest Green Rovers who have replaced their burger vans for vegan food!!
But why have they done this?
Does it make any difference to our lives?
The answer to that is… YES!
- Animal agriculture is responsible for 18% of the total release of greenhouse gases worldwide. This is more than all the cars, trucks, planes and ships in the world combined!
- Two acres of rain forest are cleared each minute to raise cattle or the crops to feed them (PETA)
- A farm with 2,500 dairy cows produces the same amount of waste as a city of 411,000 people. (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2004)
- Over 70% of the worlds fish stocks are over or fully exploited (Friends of the Earth, 2016)
Consumption of meat is a major cause of environmental damage, deforestation and ocean pollution. The fact is this huge scale of meat consumption is not sustainable for our growing population!
More than 6 million animals are killed for food every hour (Oppenlander, 2013)
And, for many farmed animals there are no laws preventing animal cruelty such as those for dogs or cats. This means that many farm animals are kept in horrific conditions and treated terribly!!
Land Required to feed 1 person for 1 year:
Vegan: 1/6th acre
Vegetarian: 3 times as much as a vegan
Meat Eater: 18 times as much as a vegan (Robbins, 1987)
If events source local produce, use organic and fair trade produce, go meat free or vegan, they can spread the message to large groups of people whilst being responsible.
What can meat eaters do?
Whether you eat meat or not you can still care about animal welfare and sustainability…
Be a responsible consumer!
- Choose meat based on knowledge of where it has come from and how the animal has been treated.
- Cut down on how much meat you eat and pay more for better quality meat.
- Switch to a more plant based diet.
Buying local produce cuts down the use of fossil fuels for transportation, whilst supporting local farmers. As well as this you can buy organic produce that does not use toxic chemicals, which reduces water, soil and air pollution.
What can events do?
- Encourage the use of organic, fair trade and local produce
- Encourage free range meat and sustainable sourced fish
- Go meat free or reduce the amount of meat selling stalls
- Don’t allow people to bring their own food to events
- Make equally delicious but sustainable vegetarian and vegan meals
- Do food tastings so that people can try vegetarian/vegan foods
The Roskilde Festival in Denmark and Way Out West in Sweden have started encouraging their food stalls to use organic produce, with a large percentage doing so. As well as this ‘Way Out West’ have stopped people from bringing their own food to the festival, providing the opportunity for people to sample the alternative produce that is on offer.
Shambala festival has gone completely meat free, but is allowing people to bring their own food to the campsites. While this encourages people to eat less meat or no meat at all, it is not forced upon people and they can still eat meat if they want to.
Also, going meat-free will have a huge influence on the festivals carbon footprint.
This is a great start and if festivals and football clubs, can go meat free or vegan… so could you!
The most important and valuable tool is education and making people aware of the effect agriculture is having on our environment, health and animal welfare!
Events are a great way to spread the message to many people and encourage people to make a difference!
This isn’t about making everyone become vegan, this is to make people more aware of the effects they are having on our planet and how they could do a very small thing that could make a huge difference!
Check out World Meat Free Day – they stated that if 10 million people swapped meat for a plant based protein in just one of their meals the impact would be incredible.
By doing something very small YOU could make a huge difference to our environment and the animals that live in it… Be a responsible event manager and try and cut back on how much meat, fish and dairy products are on offer at your event or even better
…….make your event MEAT FREE!!
For more information take a look at these links:
Why not sign up to Meat Free May
We literally are what we eat – Ted Gillespie
Oppenlander, R A (2013) Less Meat, and Taking Baby Steps Won’t Work. Minneapolis, MN: Langdon Street.
Robbins, J (1987) Diet for a New America, StillPoint Publishing, p.352.
eye opening and informative! I had no idea eating meat causes so much harm to the planet.
Thank you Beth! I never realised the true extent of meat consumption until I looked into it more recently and it really is shocking!
Very informative! Really makes me think about how much meat I am eating! Defiantly going to look into more sustainable food sources and try to reduce the amount of meat I’m eating in general
Thank you Zoe – great to hear you’ll be looking at sustainable food sources!
I have never really thought about where my meat comes from, and how that animal is raised. I should probably read more into what I’m buying.
I also didn’t know there was a world meat free day, I may give it a go and see if I can take on the challenge
Thank you Rachel – I’m glad this blog is raising awareness that’s exactly what I wanted it to do!
This is such an important subject – it’s so great that you’re encouraging people to think more carefully about their meat consumption and the effect it has on the environment. It’s amazing that films and documentaries on the subject are now becoming so popular, because as a result, people are finally starting to listen! But we still need more people like you, raising awareness.. Events going meat-free is such a great idea – I was at Wembley stadium the other day and on the floor I was on, there was only one food stall with a main-meal vegetarian option out of about 11 or 12.. awful.
Keep up the good work!
Thanks Em – I couldn’t agree more! Eventhough I do not eat meat which was mainly for animal cruelty reasons, I never knew how much of effect meat consumption is havin on our planet! Sad to hear about Wembley but hopefully with more documentaries and awareness venues and events will start being more accommodating and make a difference!
After reading this I will definitely think twice about the meat I buy and eat. I never realised before the consequences that meat can have on the environment, but I will now try to cut down the amount I have and at least buy organic and local produce.
Thank you Heather! I’m glad to hear that this has been useful for you and informative.
Very informative and shocking! Great that your generating awareness of this important issue. The public just need to know how to make veggie meals tasty. Follow this link to some yummy vegan recipies – http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes_menus/collections/healthy_vegan_recipes
Thank you Amy! I’ll take a look at the link.
I’m already trying to cut down on animal products but I did my realise how must space animams use and how much we destroy for them. This is very important for everyone to know, meat isnt an essential part of our diet and when we can we can start taking it out of our lives so easily! This is an awesome article
Thank you Pearl! Glad to hear you have already been making a difference 🙂
Very interesting, I did not ever really think of meat causing harm to the carbon footprint. If people were to become more educated I think meat free events would be successful, however branding the event ‘meat free’ might put some people off, if the food is interesting and tasty then I don’t really think it would need to be advertised as that. I saw a video on facebook of baby chicks being farmed for meat, it was very sad 🙁
Thank you for commenting Lisa! I think that is a really valid point that you have made about labelling an event meat free that is definitely something for event organisers to think about how they can make an event meat free without putting people off – possibly letting people bring there own food if they’re camping! Glad to hear it has been a useful read for you.
This is very informative and coming from an agriculture background myself I had never thought about it in this retrospect and what effect it has on the environment. I personally don’t feel there are enough meat-free options at the majority of events due to the nature of the society that we live in where meat is consumed by the majority of people daily. The treatment of the animals prior to their slaughter is something that I find is rarely spoken about but is an important issue, I believe that animals whether pets or for agriculture should all be treated fairly and well. Although meat-free events would be better for the society, I do believe it would put people off attending these events if they were to be completely meat free, maybe just more vegetarian and vegan options are ideal at first.
Thank you Joanna! It’s really good to hear from you especially as you come from an agricultural background. In an ideal world it would be great to have all animals be treated well and local farmers being used! I agree with you I think there needs to be a way that events could go meat free but not out people off!
This is such an interesting topic, I think whats important is educating people with less knowledge facts such as what are in this blog, when more people know we can make a bigger change
Thank you Jas! I’m glad you agree 🙂
What a great read… this really makes you think about your diet. I have recently cut down my meat intake and feel better for it. Its very easy to get stuck in a routine with meal planning and to eat meat based meals but by changing your mentality and researching meals you can make meals just as tasty without the meat. I didn’t realise how much we are damaging the environment & how much land we destroy to raise them. I think its a great idea to introduce meat free festivals, people need to sample new vegetarian & vegan alternatives; this will hopefully direct them into buying less meat themselves.
Thank you Katie! I’m glad you agree and I think it is just about changing your mentality and making sure there are lots of tasty vegetarian/vegan foods. This is why events would be such a good platform to promote and change peoples mentality as they have such a big influence on so many people.
I completely agree more should be done to cut the large consumption of meat, especially when a large quantity is wasted by individuals as well as large companies eg supermarkets. It is not only a waste of food, but also a life that has been wasted for nothing. The concept of using locally produced meat and produce is a fantastic idea in principle. However one of the reasons why companies and festivals in particular use the retailers and food stands is to cut costs and to provide a low budget option for their consumers. If organic meat and local produce was used, this would inevitably increase costs for both the company and the individuals purchasing food. These companies can source low cost meat from abroad at a fraction of the price, and this is probably the biggest reason why local produce is not used. What could be done to overcome this cost problem?
Thank you Joe! I agree the cost is possibly one of the big reasons why people/events do not source local produce, however I think that if people cut down on their meat intake they would have more money to spend on better quality/local meat. I do think this is an area that needs addressing and possibly events could build up relationships with local farmers in order to work together.
A very interesting blog and certainly makes your think!
As a vegetarian myself I have always thought that it is important to give people choices rather than force a belief on to them. I think education is key and that it is important that any one who does eat meat is aware of how it has been produced and sourced.
As a western society we consume far too much meat in our diets and it is important to raise awareness of the personal health benefits as well as welfare issues through consuming less meat.
A great article!
Thank you Ben! I’m so glad you agree – education is definitely the key and it is so important to not push your beliefs on to someone. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment 🙂
An interesting read touching on sensitive topics such as animal welfare which is usually considered highly in Western cultures. Awareness is raised, in the UK at least, regarding where meat comes from on supermarket packaging such as the ‘Trust the tractor’ campaign. See http://www.redtractor.org.uk/media/news/farmers-use-banners-to-get-involved-in-new-red-tractor-campaign
However, whilst it is easy to recognise campaigns like the above where choice is vast in a supermarket, catering at events can be limited and there not always as recognisable or highlighted. As our society shifts back towards sustainability, perhaps issues like those in this article will be at the forefront of our minds.
Hi Alistair. Thank you for commenting! The ‘Trust the tractor’ campaign is a great idea which makes consumers more aware of the problems and lets them know what produce are meeting standards! Hopefully, more campaigns like this will be started all over the world and events will start using products from the ‘Trust the Tractor’ campaign that would be a good step in the right direction!
What an interesting article, Rachel. I often hear about the cruel treatment of animals being reared for food, but rarely hear about the environmental impact – and it seems to me that cutting down on meat consumption is a relatively simple action. My friend recently became vegetarian for lent and has been surprised by the variety of different meals she can still make and enjoy! She even admitted that she was surprised by how little she missed it! Most people don’t know the options available to them and cook the meat based meals they have grown up with out of habit. By encouraging large events to go meat-free, you could easily encourage people to try new dishes and inspire them to try some at home! What a great idea!
Thank you Laura, I agree I had often heard about the animal cruelty aspect (although whilst researching for this blog I heard of more horrific situations that I was not aware of!) but I had never realised the impact it as on our environment! It is great to hear that your friend has made a change to her diet and is enjoying vegetarian food.
This is very intersting. Events are a great opportunity to get this message across to a large audience . As a vegetarian of over 30 years I know the health benefits are also enormous so Events focusing on health and lifestyle are another obvious area for meat free promotion . One nationwide event coming up this year is Meat Free May.
Thank you for commenting Karen. That is a great idea and good way to get health and lifestyle events involved in reducing the amount of meat on offer or becoming meat free! I wasn’t aware of meat free May i’ll put a link onto my blog.
Hi Rachel, a very interesting read with eye opening facts! As a meat eater myself I admit it is easy to ignore the source of the produce you are eating, and I think that’s largely due to the fact that people do care about animal welfare, but don’t want to think about it when doing their local shop. I think a good way to start influencing change would be for the government and local farmers to start working with supermarkets to highlight which meats are the best options for sustainable produce and to protect animal welfare; at the moment it seems to me that you have to really look in detail on the back of packets to see where some meats and produce are sourced from, or whether fish is sustainable sourced etc. and this needs to change. I think that providing only vegan and vegetarian options is a great initiative for events, and I agree food tastings/samples are brilliant ways to make consumers more aware of the delicious meals they can make at home whilst also sending out the message to be more sustainable. However I also think that it will be a long time before the world stops eating meat altogether.
Hi Jessie – I completely agree with you I think many people do care about animal welfare but don’t like to think about it and may not be aware of how much of an impact the consumption of meat has on the environment. I think that would be a great start for farmers and supermarkets to start working together and I think that many food suppliers are now becoming more aware if these issues and starting to make some changes. Unfortunately, it probably will be a long time before the world stops eating meat but even if people don’t completely stop but instead cut down and animals are given a cruelty free good life whilst they are alive, the world would be a much better place!
Great blog. Just a small change in your eating habits could help to have a big overall effect.
Thank you Kev – yes a small change can make a very big difference and hopefully people are becoming more aware of the situation! If events adopt some of these approaches they could raise awareness to many people!
Great article Rachel. I agree with many of the points that you make here, and it is important that both producers and consumers are aware of what goes into producing their food. Animal welfare should be uppermost in any producer’s mind, and any activity which necessitates cruelty to animals should not be tolerated. With this in mind, meat eaters should be encouraged to buy British produce wherever possible, as food production in this country is more heavily audited and regulated than almost anywhere else, and the British food supply chain has a strong focus on animal welfare. I would also add that a perceived increase in animal welfare, such as a move from barn reared chickens (those that are free to roam around, as all chickens raised for meat in the UK are, but which do not go outside) to free-range chickens (where the birds have access to outside areas) does not always mean a reduction in carbon footprint. In the above example, barn reared chickens have a significantly lower carbon footprint per kilo of meat produced than free range chickens. I would say that the focus should always be on providing good living conditions for the animal, whilst minimising the impact on the environment.
Thank you for you comment. It is good to know that we are more heavily audited in this country, however I still believe there is more that can be done but I think as a country we are becoming more aware and hopefully moving in the right direction! It is interesting to hear your example of the barn chickens and I completely agree that the focus should always be on good living conditions for the animals, whilst minimising environmental impacts!
Wonderful read, and interesting as it is becoming more widely accepted that it is unhealthy to consume meat in the way that we are and that festivals such as Shambala are becoming meat and even fish free with their commitment to this debate and encouraging consumers.
Thank you Rach!
Thank you Hannah! I’m glad you found it interesting – it is great to see that many festivals are becoming more aware of the issues and making changes. Still a lot more work and awareness to be done but definitely heading in the right direction!
I think this is a great article and highlights the impact that meat has on our environment. I didn’t realise that produced more waste than all those transports combined! Our bodies cannot process the amount of meat we consume so there is no nutritional benefit either, having it just twice a week is all that’s needed to reach our optimum absorption levels I believe.
Thanks for commenting Rosie – I wasn’t aware of these facts until recently which is why I decided to write the blog on this topic. The facts are astonishing! Added to that the health benefits of cutting down on meat will hopefully be an incentive for people and events to cut down.
A really insightful, thought-provoking read. It’s a horrifying fact to learn that more than 6 million animals are killed for food EVERY hour. I completely agree with you that it doesn’t matter if you’re a meat eater or not, we should all be making more of an effort to at least reduce our meat consumption (or paying more attention from where our meat is sourced from!) However, it’s promising to read how The Roskilde Festival and Way Out West have already started encouraging their food stalls to use organic produce – this is a bold initiative and allows festival attendees (who may be completely unaware of their meat consumption) to become more insightful on the matter.
Thank you for the comment Harriet – the facts are truly horrifying and I just hope they urge people to make a change. I couldn’t agree more with your comment! Lets hope the festivals can make many more people more aware!!
Such a brilliant factual read. This really is a big concern and every little helps. Obviously there will be people who are concerned about the amount of protein they need to consume in their diet but I can assure you a vegan/vegetarian diet can supply you with all the protein your body can process along with there being a wide range of vegetarian supplements out there eg whey protein. Frank madrano and the vegan warriors are amongst the healthest people on the planet. The more we become aware of how animals are treated hopefully there will be higher expectations to how our meat is produced and taken care of
Hi Zane – thank you for commenting and giving such informative feedback. Its good to hear that a vegan/vegetarian diet can supply your body with as much protein as it needs and that people have proven this! I completely agree that the more people become aware there will be higher expectations making it far more difficult for producers to get away with treating animals badly!!
For anyone interested in a healthy vegan lifestyle
Thank you Zane i’ll definitely take a look at this!!
Very informative Rachel, well done. I am so shocked at the Oppenlander statement! And will definitely be considering ‘meat free may’. A very important issue all event managers should take into consideration.
Thank you – The facts are shocking! I’m glad you’ll be considering meat free may.
Very informative and so many important facts about our individual impact on the planet. Such a small difference can make such a huge change. Good Job Rachel!
Thank you Sophie – such a small change can make a huge impact!
This just goes to show that we can all make a difference in some way, whether large or small, to human or animal life.
Thank you for commenting Lynda – a small change can make a huge difference!
Great article, it is very easy to be detached from the impact of your food choices. I think it is great that festivals are choosing to lead the way in sustainable and ethical food choices and will i hope help to influence a change in the habits of the wider population.
Thank you Robin – I also hope that it will help to influence or atleast make people aware of the impacts!
Rachel, thank you for your very thought provoking blog. The treatment and welfare of farm animals is a cause very close to my heart and it is great to read such an articulate article on the subject and its wider impact on the environment.
I think it was Paul McCartney who said “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian.” While this is unlikely to happen, blogs like yours will at least help to open peoples eyes.
Hi Nancy, thank you for taking the time to read my blog. I think that is such a good quote as it is so true and it would be a very different world if people had to capture and kill the animals themselves!
Well – as a piscatarian , I certainly feel virtuous after reading this article. Although I can’t find the strength to go all the way and become vegan it’s nice to know that my abstinence from meat is helping the planet. In truth I gave up meat on an animal welfare basis long before global warming was known about so it’s good to have alternative’ ammunition when challenged by sometimes aggressively defensive carnivores.
One fact mentioned in the article does puzzle me though and this relates to the statistic that 18% of greenhouse gases originate from agricultural animals. If these domestic animals did not exist and the land they inhabit was uncultivated, would their place not be taken by wild fauna which would produce an equivalent amount of what we might politely call “emissions”?
Hi Mel – thanks for your comment! That is a very good point that you have made, however I believe it is made worse through agriculture due to fertiliser emissions and emissions from production of feed crops amongst other things. I’m glad this has raised you awareness on the effect it is having on our environment and hopefully events will start to adopt a more ethical and responsible approach!
This is such an interesting article and a real eye opener, personally I never knew that eating certain types of meat impacts the environment in this way. I am already trying to cut meat out from my diet, and reading this has made me want to do so even more 🙂
Thank you Mel! I’m so glad it has had that impact on you. I have had a great reaction from people about this blog and so I hope it encourages events to start thinking about the food they are offering and spread the word to more people!
I really enjoyed this post. It really opened my eyes. I have been somewhat aware of the damages eating meat can do. But the thing I find most disturbing is how the animals are treated. This is to me the main reason why I have thought about becoming at least a vegetarian. Though I watch something recently that showed even cattle raised for dairy are treated just as bad. I just need to make the switch!!
The facts about the damage to the environment are equally as shocking and something needs to change.
This was very well written and showed me facts I wasn’t aware of. Well done Rachel!
Thanks Simon! I’m really glad you enjoyed reading my blog. Something does need to change and I think events could have a big impact in this change which will not only be beneficial for the event but also for the environment!
Great read 🙂 I definitely think there is a lot of information in this which most people just have no idea about. It’s certainly not as hard as people think to go meat free even if it’s just for a couple of meals a week- hopefully this article will inspire a few people to make the change!!
Thank you Lucy! Hopefully this article will inspire more people and especially event organisers as they’re events can influence many people!
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