Imagine you are at your favorite non-vegetarian restaurant on your birthday with your friends to have your treasured Mutton Special Biriyani with Mutton Kasha. You flip open the menu card to find that the restaurant only has items that have a green dot beside them. You continue flipping the pages to search for your favorite non-vegetarian dishes, but unfortunately, you do not find a single dish with a red dot beside it.
What do you do next? You put some weird reviews on their website along with writing long posts on Facebook saying that the restaurant, which used to be famous for its meat kebabs and Biriyani, is now selling vegetarian food, which is unacceptable.
Am I right? I guess yes because I would have also done the same thing. However, you perhaps missed reading the small note on the top of the menu card, saying that ‘We have partnered with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to make this planet a greener one by shifting to vegetarian meals. Please try us once in our new attire.’
Well, the assertion of whether having meat shall deteriorate the environment is a challenging question to answer. But citing the statistics, the average meat consumption per person has nearly doubled over the past 50 years. From 23 kgs in 1961 to 43 kgs in 2014, the rate at which meat consumption has increased is much higher than the rate at which the population grew over the same period. Coming back to the question, well, the production of meat is associated with various other secondary and tertiary food types. It might turn out that reducing the meat production channel may affect the secondary channels, which used meat production as the primary source of material influx.
However, recent studies have shown that the influencing index of meat production to the environment is much higher as compared to the downstream industries, which use meat as the primary inflow. Meat produces higher greenhouse gas emissions per unit energy as compared to what plant-based resources produce—owing to the fact that energy is lost at each tropic level.
Consumption of meat accelerates the production of all three major greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. The parameter is known as CO2 equivalents, which is referred to as a total carbon measure dissipated from all sources of carbonaceous phases for a given context. Using the composite measures, the CO2 equivalents in case of livestock production, including the greenhouse gases emission, accounts for around 15% of all the human-caused emissions.
I was reading a blog published by the New York Times, which stated that anthropogenic activities are responsible for 37 giga-metric tons of CO2. Thirty-seven hundred giga-metric ton of continuous emissions are estimated to cause 2°C warming. Thus, it is evident that each century shall account for the average temperature to rise by 0.1°C, which is a lot considering the participation of the secondary catalyzing factors.
As the world is continuing to increase its demand for meat and beef, the agricultural domains have also started to proliferate the breeding process extensively. But a question remains in this assertion: how can the grazing grounds be increased synchronizing with these rising demands?
Grazing helps to cultivate more resources below the ground because of the shear action, which helps in carbon sequestration, and thus, balancing the carbon cycle along with alleviating the nitrogen for the next generations. However, the greenhouse gases are intimately linked with these gaseous cycles. The demand for more meat eventually leads to overgrazing as the land area available for nurturing grass which is constant. This creates a misbalance in both the atmospheric carbon and nitrogen cycle.
Furthermore, raising the bar for livestock farming results in the loss of biodiversity as they are often converted to grazing grounds. The deforestation also has a severe impact on the global carbon footprints as the process drives one of the significant ecosystems to asymmetry with the global biome.
The above concerns and for the well being of the environment, there has been an emergence of the meat substitutes. The chicken flavored Maggi product is one of the classic examples where the company is using chicken-flavored tastemakers to bring the taste of chicken without incorporating any flesh.
History traces that the changes in dietary habits in response to a critical barrier are generally slow as there is a variety of factors which intervene in the strategy. However, with the help of the governmental bodies and organizations along with institutes may help to accelerate the process a bit more.
But above all, we must change. Next time when we visit a restaurant, let’s order one mutton dish with a vegetable side platter. Who knows, maybe this combination might taste better than the traditional mutton dishes we have. You do not need to be perfect to initiate a change, but for sure, your small jump can make the fallen pieces fit perfectly.