If going completely vegetarian or vegan freaks you out, opting for a day without meat can be a start. With the 1st of October being “World Vegetarian Day”, I thought it well to do a bit of research on how a vegetarian diet might affect the environment. Meatless Mondays are a way to look after your health and the environment by replacing all meat products and by-products with plant-based alternatives.
We all know Namibians love their meat and believe that a piece of meat is a staple in every meal. Sometimes meat is all they eat! This, however, could be a problem – and I am not just talking about the price of meat these days, but the effect our meat diets can have on the environment.
With growing concern about global warming and what we as humans can do to limit our impact on this situation, the consumption of animal products and the commercial farming industry keeps popping up.
Experts estimate that by 2050 the world population would be at 9.7 billion, meaning that by the current rate that we consume meat and other natural resources we would need three times as many resources to survive.
So, how would one day in a week make a difference, you may ask? The answer is quite astonishing!
Research has shown that by skipping meat products and by-products for one day a week for an entire year, we can save the same amount of emissions that is given off while driving in a car for 560 km. That’s approximately the distance from Windhoek to The Desert Grace and back again.
Another way to look at it, is that a single chicken breast uses about 700 liters of water to produce. That is enough for you to fill your bathtub about four times.
These greenhouse emissions that cause global warming are only aided by the industrial agricultural industry and the demand for huge amounts of meat. It is estimated that the production process of meat and meat by-products from the whole food industry are the reason for 26% of all global greenhouse gas emissions.
Livestock Farms take up huge amounts of space, more space than what is available to produce sufficient amounts of grain and wheat to feed these animals and satisfy human demand. To put it into perspective for you, a vegetarian diet production requires two times less land than livestock production.
Going meatless also means that the ocean gets some time off. Fisheries and the demand for fish and fish products cause overfishing, creating an imbalance in the ocean ecosystem. Something to think about, as Namibia has a major harbor at Walvis Bay.
We first have to crawl before we can run, therefore making small changes to our diet once a week can transform into 2 or 3 days or even an entire lifestyle change. Help our environment by going meatless on Mondays, maybe we can start a trend in Namibia.