MANILA -- Here's something to chew on: a chunk of climate emissions is caused by what we eat.
According to the the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the livestock process is "one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems.”
Meanwhile, Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change, a scientific and body under the auspices of the UN, reported that a quarter of atmospheric greenhouse gases (GHG) is a result of our carniverous appetite. It added that the worldwide production of livestock releases more GHG than all modes of transportation.
To prevent futher degregation of the environment, Greenpeace and its partner groups are calling on Filipinos to participate in the World Meat-Free Week and replace beef, chicken, pork, and other animal products on their tables with fruits and vegetables instead.
"Based on a SWS survey in 2017, 7 out of 10 Filipinos do not know that what they eat contributes to climate change," Virginia Benosa-Llorin, food and ecological agriculture campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia said in an interview.
Before food makes it to the dinner table, it goes through an arduous process that requires a lot of energy -- which consequently means a lot of GHG emissions.
While a chunk of fruits and vegetables are harvested, stored, processed, packed, and cooked, a chunk of it is fed to animals who are in turn butchered and processed before eventually being sold in our local markets.
"Thirty percent of our harvest goes to feed livestock instead of going straight to the people. We are competing with these animals for resources," Benosa-Llorin explained.
"The decrease in demand of meat will lead to a decrease in production of crops which will lead to less GHG emmissions," she continued.
GHG is not the only thing we should be worrying about. The procurement of meat and crops requires the depletion of precious resources as well, such as land and water.
The livestock industry, she said, is one of the major causes of deforestation.
"We burn forests to make space for raising cattle," Benosa-Llorin said.
"Aside from these farms that raise animals, there are factories that make fertilizers, disposals and antibiotics for these animals that contribute to the pollution too.
Meat lovers, however, do not need to eliminate their carniverous diet to be part of the solution. Simply reducing meat consumption will go a long way in preventing climate change, Benosa-Llorin said.
She noted that substituting two meat servings a week to plant-based courses regularly will significantly decrease GHG emissions.
"We don't really have to be a vegetarian. Greenpeace is just calling eveyone to reduce their consumptiom of meat," Benosa-Lloris said. "Imagine what it could do for our environment if all LGUs, schools, public and private institutions, would allot one day where their canteens would be meat-free."
Contrary to popular belief, switching to a plant-based diet does not mean a decrease in nutrients. "There is a misconception that we need animals for protein but the truth is we can get protein from, beans, legumes, and other vegetables," she explained. "Our enemy is our mindset. We are trapped in a mindset thay meat is necessary to be healthy. There are other options."
"We need more concrete actions. We need to be more proactive," she added.