- WRI estimates that the global demands for beef may increase by a whopping 95% by the year 2050.
- There are 1.3 billion cattle across the world today (and India rears 300 million of them).
- We would need over 2.6 billion cattle 30 years from now!
- The World Resources Institute (WRI), based in Washington, DC, USA, has recently suggested that people should reduce (if not abandon) eating beef
- This is despite the fact that beef-eating in the US has dropped, due to health concerns about eating “red meat.”
- Word cattle here includes cows and bulls, buffaloes, horses, sheep and goats – in effect farm animals.
- Need of pastures: Breeding cattle impacts the climate conditions on earth, contributing to global warming. It also takes up lot of land for pasturing (it is estimated that 25% of the earth’s land mass (minus the Antarctica) would be needed for pasture).
- Water intensive: It is also estimated that a third of the global water is needed for farm animal production .
- Greenhouse Gases: On top of this, cows, buffaloes, sheep, goats and other “ungulates” belch a lot; this alone emits enormous amount of greenhouse gases that contribute over 60% to global warming.
- In contrast, plants such as wheat, rice, maize, pulses, roots and tubers need no pasture land, demand far less water and, more importantly, generate little or no “greenhouse gases”.
- We have promised to cut down global warming to no more than 1.5°C within the next 20 years, but with the projected demand for increase the number of cattle, the situation can only worsen.
- Overeating: Today about 20% of the world overeats, leading to obesity and being overweight, and there are consequent health problems.
- Cutting the calories down to the optimal level will lead to both health benefits and saving in land and water use.
- Include more plant-based proteins and cut down animal-based ones. Traditional Mediterranean diet (fish and poultry meat, at low levels) and vegetarian meals (with legumes-based proteins) are suggested.
- Reduce beef consumption specifically – Cutting down beef (cattle in general) in daily diet will offer both dietary and environmental benefit. The environmental benefits are clear; it saves agriculture for land use and reduces greenhouse gases. Rather than beef, one can turn to pork, poultry, fish and, of course, legumes.
- History: The move to vegetarianism, which started around 1500-500 BCE by the Indians and the Greeks, was connected with the idea of nonviolence towards animals, and promoted by religion and philosophy. The Tamil scholar-poet Thiruvalluvar, the Mauryan kings Chandragupta and Ashoka, and the Greek sage Pythagoras (of the theorem fame) were vegetarians.