Better for farm animals, for our health and for the planet
I was extremely encouraged to see George Monbiot highlight the urgent need to eat less meat in order tackle to climate change in his December article in The Guardian. As an accomplished and well respected journalist, it was great to see him tackle a subject I believe so strongly about and help raise awareness of this important issue.
The article explores how global livestock rearing is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than all the world’s planes, trains and cars put together. As I have stressed in the past, if our appetite for meat isn’t curbed, then our diets alone will take climate change to the cusp of the 2℃ maximum ‘safe limit’.
Although I obviously welcome George’s piece, it did not go on to explore the positive choices available to those wanting to eat less but better meat.
Whilst questions can be raised about the wisdom of filling bare upland hills with heavily subsidised flocks of sheep, particularly in regions where tree-cover could alleviate flood risk, we shouldn’t overlook the strong role that grazing animals play in protecting our environment.
Keeping animals in mixed rotational farms where they help maintain soil health and provide nutritious, higher welfare food is a big win-win. Mixed farming can help reduce pollution and increase numbers of farmland wildlife, such as birds, bees and butterflies, which are sadly in decline as a result of intensive farming. In fact, much of this decline is due to the fragmentation and inhospitable environments created by intensive agriculture.
Surely mixed rotational farming is a much better option than the chemical-soaked monocultures of crops, the majority of which are grown to feed animals confined on industrial factory farms. Not forgetting the clean-up cost of the pollution coming from these heavily fertilised crops costing taxpayers billions.
Crucially, we need to take countryside stewardship in the right direction and support farmers who take this approach – avoiding pesticide soaked landscapes and the intensive rearing of animals.
Consumers looking for higher welfare options which are also better for the planet, should look for pasture-fed, free range or organic.