What is Climate Change?
"Climate change refers to a large-scale, long-term shift in the planet's weather patterns and average temperatures"
Climate change is one of the most pressing issues facing our planet today. It is referred to as the long term change in weather patterns, including temperature, precipitation and wind patterns. The root cause of climate change is global warming which is caused by the increased level of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. This has been linked to extreme weather events such as droughts, flood, hurricanes and intense heat waves that appear to be occurring more frequently.
This has far-reaching implications for human health, food security, economic development and biodiversity. If we don't take action now to reduce emissions and adapt to the changing climate, we risk facing even more devastating consequences in the future.
What is currently happening to our climate?
Our world is constantly changing around us, for the good and the bad. The Met Office shows all of the devastating impacts climate change is having on us, this projection outlines the changes the UK will face in the future if we carry on acting recklessly and not taking action towards saving the planet.
Major impacts climate change has had include:
Since 1880, global sea levels have increased by 8-9 inches and by 2050, NASA predict another rise of 12 inches above today's current sea levels.
The rate of global warming since 1981 has doubled, with the earth temperature increasing 0.18°C per decade.
Climate change itself will be responsible for the extinction of 8% of our current species.
The number of natural disasters due to climate change has tripled in the past 30 years.
How plant-based saves the planet:
A plant based diet is when an individual does not consume any animal products, instead eating patterns focus on food primarily from plants. Many people believe that plant based diets are limited to just fruits and vegetables, however they are made up of legumes, beans, wholegrains, plant based proteins, nuts, seeds etc.
Eating a vegetarian or vegan diet is one of the most powerful steps you can take to reduce your impact on the environment. Plant-based diets require fewer resources, generate fewer greenhouse gas emissions and produce less waste than meat-based diets. It can also help protect wildlife, conserve water, and reduce air pollution- all positive steps towards reducing the effects of climate change.
According the the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel, "Shifting diets from meat and other animal products to plant-based diets has a high potential for reducing carbon footprints and mitigating climate change".
The farming of animals such as cows, chickens and pigs for meat, eggs and dairy makes up for 65% of nitrous-oxide emissions. Nitrous-oxide is an element that is over 296 more powerful in terms of global warming compared to carbon dioxide. By switching to plant based, this means that not only the animals get to live, but also positive changes are made to stop global warming and climate change. Also, those who eat meat are responsible for the consumption of 15,000 litres of water a day- it takes 76 gallons of water to make animal products for one person for a single year. Excess water usage is not only harmful to your bank account but also negatively impacts our planet.
"Animal agriculture is responsible for up to 91% of the Amazon rainforest destruction."
With animal farming destroying ecosystems and leading to deforestation, it is only a matter of time before the negative effects we see hurting the environment get worse. Many forests and natural landscapes are destroyed to make room for farming. Trees absorb carbon dioxide and emit oxygen, by destroying large quantities, it leads to carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses to be emitted into the environment- research has shown that forest loss is the cause of 10% of global warming.
By making conscious decisions about what you put on your plate, you have the power to shape our future and make a positive difference for our planet.
Steps towards a more sustainable diet:
Start slow! The main tip is to not go completely 'cold turkey' on your favourite meat based meals, slowly incorporate plant based meals. For example, start with 'Meat Free Mondays' and slowly add more plant based days so it is less of a daunting experience.
Keep meals exciting and new. Finding and making new plant based recipes is a great way to transition into a fully plant based diet as it makes the experience more fun- don't be afraid to switch up meals and try things you assume you don't enjoy.
Research, Research, Research! For a lot of people, a fully plant based diet can be daunting and overwhelming as it is alien to them. However, once you start researching foods and the benefits of plant based diets, you will (hopefully!) begin to enjoy it.
Stock up on healthy and locally sourced foods. Having a range of plant based options makes the swap a lot smoother as you can choose what is right for you. Bonus points for locally sourced and grown goods as this reduces carbon footprint even further- helping eliminate negative climate change,
By making small changes in our diets, we can make a big difference for the future.