ARE we doing our best to help save the planet? Not quite. Especially if you eat a lot of meat, poultry or consume dairy products, according to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta).
Even environmentalists, the group says, need to do more by eating veggies more and less meat, if not no animal meat at all, to help fight climate change. Peta believes that, by becoming vegan, people can actually help save the planet.
Even former US Vice President Al Gore has turned vegan, says Jana Sevilla, a vegan and Peta Asia campaigner in the Philippines. Al Gore is at the forefront in the fight against climate change and its threats to humanity. While vegetarian eat vegetables for health reasons, a vegan do not eat meat, for ethical reasons, anchored on the conviction that animals are not for food.
But there is more to promoting animal rights and welfare in becoming vegan, Sevilla says. It is saving the planet. Citing a 2006 report of the Food and Agriculture office (FAO) of the United Nations (UN), Sevilla said animal factories that produce cattle, swine, chicken and egg, produce more carbon dioxide than plant-based food products.
She said the livestock industry consumes more water, cause land and water pollution more than farms dedicated to growing plant-based food, including rice, the staple food widely consumed by the worlds human population.
The report, titled Livestocks long shadow: Environmental issues and options, which assesses the full impact of the livestock sector on environmental problems states that the livestock sector emerges as one of the top or three most significant contributors to most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global.
The report also states that livestocks contribution to environmental problems is on a massive scale and its potential contribution to their solution is equally large, so significant that it needs to be addressed with urgency.
According to UN FAO news report in 2014, the largest source of greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions within agriculture is enteric fermentation, when methane is produced in livestock during digestion and released via belches.
Enteric fermentation accounted for 39 percent of the sectors total GHG outputs. From 2001 to 2011, emissions through enteric fermentation increased by 11 percent.
From the same report, UN FAO said that 44 percent of agriculture-related GHG outputs occurred in Asia, followed by the Americas (25 percent), Africa (15 percent), Europe (12 percent) and Oceania (4 percent).
Igloo, reminder to Apec leaders
November 13, as world leaders arrived for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Economic Leaders Meeting in Manila, Peta staged an installation showing a melting life-sized igloo in front of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) in Pasay City. CCP is near the Philippine International Convention Center, the venue of the Apec meeting.
In a statement explaining the creative event, Peta Asia Vice President for International Operations Jason Baker said the igloo would remind Apec economic leaders that helping the environment starts with food production and consumption.
No world summit tackling climate change can afford to ignore the environmental devastation caused by the meat industry, from carbon emissions to water depletion, Baker says.
Before the event, Peta wrote a letter to the Apec Secretariat urging the organizers to serve vegan meal to the participants. Peta is making a noise in time for the countrys hosting of the Apec meeting to advocate animal rights and welfare, and in time for the 21st Conference of Parties Leaders Meeting in Paris, France, in December.
Can vegan diet really help save the planet?
Peta believes that lifestyle change, starting with diet"for reasons of health, environment and animal rights or ethical considerations"is the best way to save the planet.
In the Philippines, a rice-eating nation, fish meat, as well as animal meat, such as beef, pork and chicken, and their by-products, such as egg and the dairy products, are almost always on the menu.
Per-capita consumption of animal meat in the country has increased from 24 kilograms in 2010 to 32 kg in 2014, according to a study of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).
The PIDS predicted that per capita consumption of meat would increase to 34 kg in 2016 on rising consumer spending and capacity.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Statistics Authority reported that the countrys poultry and livestock production continue to expand by an average growth of 4 percent, or a combined value of more than P100 billion in the last three years.
Unfortunately, according to Sevilla, the more meat Filipinos consume every day, the more it contributes to the problem that endangers the planet and all species living in it.
According to Peta, feeding massive amounts of grains and water to animals, and transporting, slaughtering, freezing them in cold storage waste a ton of energy.
It takes more than 10 times the amount of fossil fuel to produce 1 gram of animal protein as it does to produce 1 gram of plant protein.
To Peta, eating meat is like driving a whole fleet of SUVs [sport-utility vehicles] around the block every time you sit down to eat. Nancy Siy, a yoga teacher, said: The best way of solving a problem is by identifying the cause. Siy, who turned vegan in 2009 after learning how animals are slaughtered to produce meat that people eat everyday, said by consuming plant-based food instead, people can actually help reduce carbon emission, address pollution and save the poor animals from the cruel process.
Siy founded the support group Manila Vegan, which helps people turn to vegan diet, and adopt the principle that animals are not for food through social networks.
Do you eat monkeys? No, because animals are not food, she said. Cows, pigs, chicken and other livestocks, she said, are animals, too. By not eating animals, everybody can help to save the planet, she added.
Siy said that global meat consumption is slowly killing the planet. According to the UN, livestock is a major contributor to greenhouse gasses that is causing climate change.
The livestock, particularly cattle, is a major contributor to greenhouse gas, she added.
Even the animal manure and other waste produced by animal farms, she said, contribute not only to air pollution, but soil and water pollution, as well. Siy said that being a vegan is not at all that difficult, especially if one would consider the benefits to health, environment and the planet.
She added that there are vegan food and food products as there are vegetarian or nonmeat food for almost everyone.
There is even vegan ice cream. There are also restaurants that serve vegan food nowadays, she said. The Philippines has vowed to reduce its carbon emission by 70 percent as part of its conditional commitment to the global effort to limit temperature increase below 2 degrees Celsius under the Intended Nationally Determined Contribution it submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Secretariat on October 31.
The reduction of carbon emissions, as part of the Philippine commitment, however, will come not from agriculture or the livestock sector, but from energy, transport, waste, forestry and industry sectors subject to the extent of financial resources, including technology development and transfer, and capacity building that will be made available to the Philippines.//
Author: Jonathan L. Mayuga,
Date: November 15, 2015
Source: Business Mirror