As a ‘reformed vegetarian’, I’m familiar with the argument that eating less meat helps the environment, but a new report hits us with some hard facts. But will they encourage you to adopt a ‘demitarian’ lifestyle?
Experts say that cutting down on meat-eating could have a major impact on reducing nitrogen pollution, caused largely by livestock farming.
In fact, they worked out that the environmental cost of nitrogen pollution is up to £650 a year for every person in Europe.
Nitrogen pollution and the environment
Two hundred experts from 89 organisations across Europe studied the annual cost of nitrogen pollution on air, soil, water, increased greenhouse gases and damage to wildlife. They estimated a total annual cost of between £55-280 billion across Europe – or, up to £650 each.
But could cutting back on meat really make a difference? Lead editor Dr Mark Sutton from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology thinks it can:
‘If we want to help the problem we can all do something by eating less meat. Eating meat is the dominant driver of the nitrogen cycle in Europe.’
The question is, will these figures motivate us to change our lifestyles? Will we really stop to consider the environment as we tuck into our ham sandwich or pepperoni pizza?
Does less meat make you healthier?
Luckily, the scientists aren’t suggesting we all give up meat completely – instead they’re suggesting a ‘demitarian’ diet, where we eat smaller quantities of meat with lots of veggie meals in between.
This is an apt description of my diet, so I’m feeling quite smug. I love meat, but I’m conscious about its origin and also enjoy eating vegetarian meals. But I’m constantly surprised to hear people claim that they couldn’t possibly eat a meal that doesn’t have meat in it.
Really? Personally, I start to feel sluggish and pretty rough after I’ve eaten too much meat – and there’s plenty of evidence to show that too much meat is bad for your health which puts me off too.
Only a couple of months, ago new advice came out recommending we eat no more than 70g of red meat a day – that’s three rashers of bacon or two sausages. The report by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition warned that thousands of bowel cancer deaths could be prevented every year if people stuck to this limit.
Our own qualified nutritionist, Shefalee Loth, agrees with the recommendations:
‘Red meat is an important source of protein and iron in our diets, however two servings of red meat a week are enough to meet your iron requirements. Also, many vegetarian foods are high in protein such as dairy, soya, tofu and lentils and pulses.’
Does any of this research – or Shefalee’s advice – make you more inclined to reduce the amount of meat you munch? Or is there nothing that will part you from your carnivorous ways?
What would make you cut down on meat?
The effect on my health (36%, 523 Votes)
The expense (24%, 343 Votes)
Nothing! (20%, 295 Votes)
The effect on the environment (12%, 171 Votes)
My morals (9%, 124 Votes)
Total Voters: 1,064