Autumnal salad with squash, pomegranate seeds, avocado and walnuts

This week two major new studies have linked climate change to meat consumption.

“The world is heading towards a climate catastrophe” said a landmark report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The report said that unless urgent steps are taken now coral reefs will be wiped out, sea levels will rise exposing millions to flooding and our ability to grow crops will be significantly impaired.

Yet the message was hopeful in a way, as each individual can make a difference with some simple lifestyle changes.

The researchers advised people too:

  • buy less meat, milk, cheese and butter and more locally sourced seasonal food – and throw less of it away • drive electric cars but walk or cycle short distances • take trains and buses instead of planes • use videoconferencing instead of business travel • use a washing line instead of a tumble dryer • insulate homes • demand low carbon in every consumer product

Christiana Figueres, the Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, was even more specific about the benefits of vegetarianism:

“If you’re still eating meat, you’re not serious about the planet you’re turning over to the next generation,” she said.  Although she did accept that total elimination will be difficult for some.

“If you’re eating meat, reduce the amount you’re eating. If you’ve already reduced, cut it out entirely.”

Good advice. I’m firmly in the reducing camp.

Flexitarian Diets

Then just a couple of days after scientists delivered this punch to climate deniers, a new study published in Nature, said that flexitarian diets are going to be key to limiting climate change, water scarcity and pollution.

The authors say that the food system is a major driver of climate change, depleting freshwater and pollution through excessive use of nitrogen and phosphorous.

“We can eat a range of healthy diets but what they all have in common, according to the latest scientific evidence, is that they are all relatively plant based,” said lead author Dr Marco Springmann from the University of Oxford.

“You can go from a diet that has small amounts of animal products, some might call it a Mediterranean based diet, we call it a flexitarian diet, over to a pescatarian, vegetarian or vegan diet – we tried to stay with the most conservative one of these which in our view is the flexitarian one, but even this has only one serving of red meat per week.”

Some of the brilliant plant based dishes at Coal Office

Now not only can we enjoy brilliant veggie food, but know that we’re helping to save the planet at the same time.

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