BY: Tim Hauber
I don’t know about you, but it sure feels extra hot to me these days! As a farmer, I pay particular attention to the weather here in The Bahamas. While it does feel particularly hot here this summer, the statistics are now in and show that this is not just a local phenomenon.
Around the globe, we are experiencing record-breaking weather events. NOAA has released data showing June 2023 to be the hottest since we started recording data 174 years ago. England’s Meteorological Department has reported the Atlantic Ocean water temperatures to be the hottest since 1850 when record-keeping began!
Statistics Tell the Story
This ocean temperature statistic should be particularly concerning to us here in The Bahamas because we know it leads to stronger hurricanes and rising sea levels. The earth’s average temperature is trending upwards, and most scientists agree that this is connected to the increase in greenhouse gas emissions and the cutting down of forests around the globe.
These statistics and weather trends can be terribly discouraging at times and can lead to a feeling of helplessness, but the good news is that we all can make decisions that will help rectify this problem. Your daily decisions regarding what food you put on your plate directly impact the environment.
In previous articles, we have looked at the benefits of growing locally and eliminating food wastage. However, today I would like to look at the impact of meat consumption on our environment.
Cows and Green House Gasses
According to the World Wildlife Fund, half of all habitable land on our planet is currently used for agriculture, and 75% of this land is used solely to raise animal feed and livestock. Most of this farmland is used to grow grains fed to cattle to produce beef for human consumption.
Unfortunately, cows are quite inefficient in converting grain to meat protein and they produce a lot of problematic byproducts in the process. The amount of greenhouse gases produced yearly because of meat production is roughly equivalent to the greenhouse gases produced by every combustion engine (car, plane, ship, etc.) combined!
It would be much more efficient for us to eat protein directly from plants instead of using the inefficient cow to create meat protein. Why are we cutting down 50 million square miles of forest every year to produce more meat when we could simply switch to a plant-based protein and instantly reduce our need for agricultural land by 80%?
If we would allow 80% of the agricultural land to return to forests or grasslands, there is no doubt that this would positively impact global warming, freshwater accessibility, and animal & plant diversity loss. Some scientists have calculated that this action, along with reducing fossil fuel consumption, would slow down or even stop global warming.
There currently exists some controversy over moving to an entirely plant-based diet. Still, most scientists will agree that reducing meat consumption will benefit the health of our environment and our population. I want to propose that we all take a first step in this direction by adopting a Meatless Monday habit.
The Meatless Monday campaign was started in conjunction with the John Hopkins School of Public Health over 20 years ago and has allowed millions of people to experiment with meat-free meals to improve their health and the health of the planet. There is little doubt that eliminating meat consumption every Monday will have a positive impact on the environment and on your own health.
- Meatless Mondays will help reduce our environmental impact by creating less greenhouse gases and decreasing the land, water and energy resources needed.
- Meatless Mondays will help to increase your health and vitality by reducing heart disease and cancers.
- Meatless Mondays will help to reduce animal suffering caused by intensive factory farms.
- Meatless Mondays will help to eliminate world hunger by freeing up more resources for those in need.
Our family started the Meatless Monday habit almost ten years ago and contrary to what you might think, it resulted in us enjoying our food more than before. Removing animal protein from the center of the plate has forced us to be more creative with what we cook and how we cook it.
There are many resources available online to support your efforts of eliminating meat consumption every Monday. Often this shift will result in a reduction in your grocery bill, which is a great bonus. The following website provides many recipes and resources to help with your journey… www.mondaycampaigns.org/meatless-monday
After a year or two of Meatless Mondays, we found that we enjoyed this eating style so much that my family switched to only eating meat on the weekends. Eventually, we decided to eat no meat at home, which allows some flexibility in eating meat outside of the home while still fulfilling our goal of a 90% reduction in meat intake. Our family is very active and healthy and these days, we enjoy eating and cooking more than ever!
When looking at the trends in global warming and the impact of meat production on the environment, I think we all should consider taking this first step of a Meatless Monday habit. I am convinced that you will enjoy this experience and feel good knowing that you are reducing your impact on our planet in a very tangible manner.
About One Eleuthera Foundation
Founded in 2012, One Eleuthera Foundation is a community-based non-profit organization dedicated to transforming our local island communities into thriving, self-sufficient ecosystems. We do this by focusing on five key areas: economic ownership, meaningful educational advancement, pathways to wellness, and environmentally sustainable communities centered around our island’s unique cultural identity. We run a number of social enterprises, including CTI, our vocational school; the Retreat Hotel, a training hotel for hospitality students; and our farm and Cooling House, which trains future farmers in the best sustainability and food production practices. Through OEF’s consistent dedicated efforts, the tenacity and resourcefulness of our legacy community, and the support of donors and partners, we are creating change in Eleuthera.