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Meat, Fish & Dairy

The Effects of Eating Meat, Fish & Dairy

A large proportion of the population enjoy eating steaks, cod and cheese. But at what cost?

The inconvenient truth is the meat and dairy industries are among the biggest drivers of pollution and climate change.

Things are only set to get worse as countries such as China grow wealthier and adopt ‘fashionable’ Western diets.

With a growing population – projected to reach 10 billion by 2050 – demand for meat, fish and dairy will continue to put a significant strain on the environment.

When we produce meat, we’re using up valuable land and crops to rear and feed animals.

We’re not only aggravating the ecosystem, we’re also driving inequality.  Human-caused climate change disproportionately affects the world’s poorest communities.

Eating less meat - cooked steak

47%

The global demand for beef products is forecast to rise 47% by 2030 in China alone.

1800 gal

The amount of water required to produce a pound of beef. The same amount of corn requires only 108 gallons.

83%

The amount of farmland used to produce meat and dairy, yet it provides just 18% of our total calorie intake.

70%

If we continue to eat meat and dairy at the same rate, 70% of all global greenhouse gases will eventually come from these industries.

2°C

Unless we “radically shift” our global appetite for meat and dairy, it’s unlikely that we’ll keep rising global temperatures below the recommended 2 degrees celsius.

50%

A plant-based diet, that eliminates all meat, fish, dairy and eggs will cut your personal carbon footprint by 50%.

Why Should I Care?

Aside from contributing to climate change, eating meat, fish and dairy has other knock-on effects.

Animals, including farmed fish, are often routinely fed antibiotics. These antibiotics enter the human food chain, and are in part to blame for the impending antibiotic apocalypse.

Red meat is high in saturated fat and cholesterol, neither of which are good for our health. Processed meats such as bacon are now officially classed as carcinogens.

Fish isn’t off the health radar either. Farmed salmon contains potential cancer-causing agents including heavy metals such as mercury.

fish on tray
cows in bars

Animal Welfare Issues

Whether we ignore them or not, images and footage exists of how animals in mega farms are treated. For dairy cows, this means male calves being destroyed at birth.

For females it means going the same way as their mothers – repeated pregnancies, reduced lifespans, mastitis. Not to mention having their calves forcibly removed at a day old.

For chickens, it routinely means a life in a windowless shed or being gassed or macerated at birth for the male chicks.

None of these facts make that cheese platter, burger or Full English breakfast very appealing.

How Can I Eat Less Meat?

Eating less doesn’t mean eating none. You can still enjoy meat and fish. But choose to eat fewer, better quality animal products, from more sustainable sources.

Knowing how to identify sustainable meat and fish is a great first step.

Look for organic labels to reduce the amount of intensively farmed meat and fish you’re consuming. Buying directly from a butcher or fishmonger is another way to eat better. They’re normally super knowledgeable about where their produce has come from.

Find ways to eat less meat and fish by learning more about plant-based eating too. There are new vegan, vegetarian and plant-based products popping up in the shops all the time. And of course, you can cook up your own plant-based meals at home.

Eat less meat - tray of cooked meat
Less dairy - non-dairy icecream

Is It Possible to Ditch Dairy?

Yes! There’s loads of non-dairy alternatives on the market to choose from.

Milk wise, the choices are vast and include plant-based milks made from oats, cashews, almonds, soya and even peas.

Plant-based yoghurts, ice creams and chocolatey desserts also exist. Even vegan cheese is getting better!

You could also learn to make your own, too.

Experimenting With Vegan and Vegetarian Diets

Here at Eco & Beyond, we’re always experimenting with vegan and vegetarian foods. And we’re always amazed at how much passion is put into them, by so many brands doing good!

Remember, it’s not all or nothing. You don’t have to turn vegan overnight – or at all. Eating less meat, fist and dairy is exactly that: eating less.

And if or when you do choose to consume animal products, aim for quality and the highest level of animal welfare.

Eating less meat - vegan sandwich
Less meat - plant-based meal

Jumping on the Plant-Based Wagon

Is eating less meat and dairy trendy fad? Absolutely not.

As David Attenborough so eloquently puts it, the future of the planet is in our hands.

It’s of critical importance for our planet, our health and our future generations.

The more we choose to protect the planet, our own health and the welfare of animals, the bigger and more positive our impact.