June 15th, 2018
World Meat Free Week is taking place this week in a bid to encourage people to try a plant-based diet.
The campaign is running from 11 to 18 June and calls on people to join in by switching from meat-centric meals to vegetarian alternatives.
The campaign started four years ago as a World Meat Free Day and due to its huge success was expanded to a whole week, a spokesperson for the campaign told The Green News.
The week has attracted support from various athletes, celebrity chefs and other famous people who have spoken openly about the positive impact of a vegetarian diet on their lives.
There has been a change in consumer behaviour in recent years on vegan and vegetarian diets. In the UK, for example, 3.5 million residents now claim to be vegans and around 7 million have introduced a vegetarian diet to their lifestyle in order to reduce their carbon footprint and safe animals.
According to the UN, total emissions from global livestock are 7.1 Gigatonnes of Co2-equivalent per year, representing 14.5 per cent of all anthropogenic emissions.
Cattle are the animal species responsible for the most emissions, the UN states, representing about 65 per cent of the livestock sector’s emissions.
A University of Oxford study in 2016 found that switching to a plant-based diet could save eight million lives, reduce greenhouse gas emission by two-thirds and avoid major climate change damages by 2050.
If people’s behaviour will not change it is estimated that the demand of the meat industry will have to increase production up to 200 million tons of meat more annually by 2050 which would contribute to losing even more land surface, fresh water and forests to the meat industry.
The livestock industry is one of the main causes of deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, for example, and is responsible for taking up 30 per cent of the global land surface.
Greenpeace has joined the movement and encourages people to challenge themselves and stay meat-free for at least a week.
“Industrial meat production is tearing down our forests, polluting our water and warming the planet. Eating more plant-based food is urgent,” the environmental group tweeted this week.
Not everyone is impressed with the week, however. Sandra Higgins, who runs Eden Farmed Animal Sanctuary, told The Green News that World Meat Free Week is “meaningless and confusing”, and that veganism is not something to try for a week and then “discard like a piece of old clothing”.
“When something is sufficiently problematic that we have a World Week calling for its elimination, then why resume the behaviour after seven days,” says Ms Higgins, who also runs the Irish branch of the Go Vegan World public advertising campaign.