Small individual changes for a large global impact
Most people would be quite willing to make reductions in their intake of meat & dairy products, once they understand the strong positive changes associated with this shift in diets. It is arguably easier to get 7 people to give up meat for 1 day a week, than it is to get one person to go completely vegan - yet the overall global positive impact on the environment & animal suffering remains the same.
However, health is an individual challenge, and the more you reduce your meat and dairy consumption the higher the health benefits. Needless to say, nothing is healthier than a well balanced vegan diet.
Recognising this, a number of leading personalties & institutions have started calling for reduction in our consumption of animal products, as the first positive step towards a more compassionate, healthy and environmentally friendly diet.
A few of the prominent messages & reduction initiatives:
Meatless Monday / Meatless Days
Meatless Monday is an international campaign that encourages people to not eat meat on Mondays. Launched in the US in 2003, in association with the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the program is now active in 23 countries and growing.
The program was launched as ‘Meatless Monday’, with a focus on Monday since it is the start of the work week, when individuals settle back into their weekly routine. Unhealthy habits that prevailed over the weekend can be forgotten and replaced by positive choices. However as compared to a focus on Monday in specific, the idea is to have people conciously chose to stay away from animal products one day of the weak. As people experience the positive impacts of this small change, it is hoped that meat consumption on other days will fall as well.
Since launch, the program has gained rapid traction with increasing popularity. Leading global universities including Oxford, Harvard, UCLA and Columbia have adopted the program. The program has even witnessed success at city levels with cities across Europe (starting in Belgium), USA (San Franciso, Washington), Latin America (Sao Paolo) and Australia (Cape town) choosing to implement the program.
UN urges global move to meat and diary free diet
The United Nations Food & Agriculture Office (UN FAO) has been on the forefront in terms of research of the environmental impact of the livestock industry. The UN FAO has released 2 reports: Livestocks Long Shadow & Livestock in the Balance, in which it examines in detail the destructive impact of the livestock industry on our environment, land & water resources and human hunger.
The reports conclude that "livestock's contribution to environmental problems is on a massive scale and its potential contribution to their solution is equally large". The UN has recommended a global move towards a meat & dairy free diet (i.e. vegan diet) to save the world from the worst impacts of climate change.
Eat meat only on special occasions: German EPA, Tim Lang (WHO advisor)
Germany’s environmental agency has issued a formal advisory to German’s to reduce meat consumption, by asking them to eat meat only on special occasions
Tim Lang (professor of food policy at City University, London and advisor to the WHO and UK Dept. of Environment) has suggested that we should move back to where culture has been for 1000’s of years and eat meat only on special occasions, such as feasts or festivals. He recommends that meat should be eaten once a week at most, as eating too much meat leads to obesity, heart disease and diabetes.
Leading doctors & scientists recommend shift towards a plant based diet to prevent and reverse major chronic diseases
Beginning in the late 1970s, a group of now-prominent physicians and scientists in the United States – John A. McDougall, Caldwell Esselstyn, Neal D. Barnard, Dean Ornish, Michael Greger, and T. Colin Campbell, a professor of nutritional biochemistry – began to argue that diets based on animal fat and animal protein, such as the standard American diet, were detrimental to health. In a number of research studies and best-selling books they proposed that a low-fat plant-based diet would not only prevent, but could even reverse, certain chronic diseases, such as coronary heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers.
UNEP report urges people to have meat consumption
The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) released a report in 2013, in which it argued that people in the rich world should become 'demitarians' - eating half as much meat as usual - in order to avoid severe environmental damage. The report highlights how the spread of industrialized factory farming has "caused a web of water and air pollution that is damaging human health".
Water scientist's warn that water and food shortages could force world into vegetarianism (Stockholm International Water Institute)
Scientists working at Stockholm International Water Institute, released a report in 2012 providing a warning that the impact of water scarcity on food production could force the world into vegetarianism by 2050. The report highlights: "There will not be enough water available on current croplands to produce food for the expected 9 billion population in 2050 if we follow current trends and changes towards diets common in western nations. There will be just enough water if the proportion of animal-based foods is limited to 5% of total calories and considerable regional water deficits can be met by a reliable system of food trade."