New research shows that meat eating in the UK has fallen by 17 percent over the last decade, taking the country more than half way to the governments target of 30 percent by 2030.
Raising livestock for meat, eggs and milk generates 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, the second highest source of emissions and greater than all transportation combined. It also uses about 70 percent of agricultural land, and is one of the leading causes of deforestation, biodiversity loss, and water pollution. So, changing our dietary habits is a key weapon in the arsenal of solutions to climate change - and a significant way that each individual on Earth can make a positive difference.
If the UK achieved its 30 percent target by the end of this decade, the overall changes in meat intake would equate to a 35 percent reduction in the amount of land and a 23 percent reduction in the amount of freshwater needed to rear livestock, as well as a 28 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture overall. So, reducing meat consumption is clealy an important part of the country's climate ambitions.
The UK's National Diet and Nutrition Survey is the only survey to capture nationally representative data on the food people are eating. This means that the mix of people surveyed resembles the general population with regards to demographics such as age, gender, ethnicity, income and region.
The positive news is that the survey reveals that 39 percent of people in the UK are currently trying to reduce their meat intake, whether for health or environmental reasons. Whilst this is good news for the nation's and the planet's health, more needs to be done.
White people and those born in the 1980s and 1990s ate the most meat, while the youngest (those born after 1999) and oldest (those born before 1960), and those with Asian heritage were eating the least. There was no difference in intake between genders or household income brackets. And the number of vegans and vegetarians in the UK is also increasing steadily, with 5 percent of respondents foregoing meat or all animal products in 2018-19, up from 2 percent in 2008-09.
If you would like to 'do your bit' by reducing your meat intake, wherever you live in the world,
why not check out this list of 26 daily strategies for reducing meat consumption - developed by the LEAP team (Livestock, Environment and People) at the University of Oxford - and available at their online programme.
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