Last week thousands of Australians took up the challenge to go without meat for a week. Reasons ranged from health or animal welfare to environmental concerns – particularly climate change.
Not everyone found the challenge easy, said Meat Free Week co-founder Melissa Hobbs, but the debate has been thrown wide open.
“Some said they found it really hard, some didn’t make it through the week, but most of the feedback was really positive,” said Hobbs, who aims to reach people who may have “never considered the impact their food choices are having.”
“Our campaign has a really single-minded purpose, and that is to try and get people to reduce their meat consumption,” said Hobbs.
“If we got everyone who participated to commit to a meat-free Monday, or, better still, to actually halve their meat consumption … then that’s positive.”
Hot on the heels of Meat Free Week a new climate initiative goes live online this week. Less Meat Less Heat uses the term ‘climatarian’ for people who choose to eat a low-carbon diet.
Less Meat Less Heat draws on scientific reports including the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s (UNFAO) Livestock’s Long Shadow, Worldwatch Institute’s Livestock and Climate Change, and Beyond Zero Emissions’ (BZE) Land Use Report.
CEO of BZE Stephen Bygrave said agriculture contributes significantly to Australia’s emissions, with landclearing – largely for the livestock industry – the largest source of agricultural emissions.
“When you include landclearing emissions, agriculture actually makes up about 33% of Australia’s emissions profile,” said Bygrave.
Asked about the shift to a less carbon-intensive diet Bygrave said “the reality is that if we are to have a habitable planet and a world that is only limited to 2 degrees warming by the end of the century, we need to be considering the role that all sectors can play in reducing emissions, and that includes the agricultural sector.”
“Reducing meat consumption is a decision that every individual can make on their own terms”, said Bygrave, adding that reducing meat consumption is a simple step “for individuals who are wondering what actions they can take to reduce emissions in the absence of any government response to climate change.”
Less Meat Less Heat founder Mark Pershin agrees with Bygrave that it is necessary to address emissions from all sectors.
“If we only focus on the renewable energy transition then we’ll still hit climate catastrophe,” said Pershin.
“Addressing livestock emissions buys us time to transition to a low-carbon economy, and time is not on our side. The good news is that we can have more time if we cut livestock emissions.”
Less Meat Less Heat will help Australians track the climate footprint of their food choices with web apps that keep it simple, fun and engaging.
“Most carbon calculators exclude the food footprint, which dwarfs the impact of other measures like riding your bike instead of driving your car,” said Pershin.
“Less Meat Less Heat’s initial goal is to achieve widespread awareness of the total climate footprint of each meal so we can make informed choices about how we eat.”If you’re interested in learning more about Less Meat Less Heat, check out their brand new website.