There were approximately 6.5 billion people living on earth in 2005 and as the world’s population continues to grow, our requirement for food will also increase. Worldwide food production requires 30% of the total soil available, 20% of fossil fuel energy and a major part of the fresh water flow. Raising cattle is one of the most damaging components of agriculture. They cause the most environmental damage of any non-human species through over-grazing, soil erosion, desertification and tropical deforestation for ranches, in addition to their gaseous emissions and manure products. Studies on world food security estimate that an affluent diet containing meat requires up to 3 times as many resources as a vegetarian diet.
Global production of meat has risen dramatically from 130 million tones in the late 1970s to 230 million tones in the year 2000. Meat is now the single largest source of animal protein in all affluent nations and demand for animal flesh is expected to more than double by the year 2050. In order to meet this growing appetite, animals will no doubt be reared more intensively and cheaply with factory farming and aquaculture (fish farming) causing further pollution, water and land usage. If nothing is done, the environmental impact of meat production can only increase.
Diet is an important tool in working to achieve environmental sustainability.
There are many reasons to eat seasonally. Your ingredients will be fresher and therefore tastier. If produced locally, they will have less impact on the environment, thanks to reduced energy use and associated CO2 emissions from their production and transportation. Buying seasonal fruit and vegetables is also a good way to support your local economy and farming comunnities.
source: UK Vegetarian Society