Virgin’s patron Richard Branson has given up eating beef as part of personal commitment to reduce his environmental footprint, as red meat is one of the foods that requires most resources and is speeding up deforestation.
Writing on his blog, Branson explains that he decided to stop eating what was once one of his favourite meals.
“Eating less red meat can be healthier, better for the environment and – surprisingly to me – really easy to do,” he wrote.
The entrepreneur lists the consequences and effects that eating meat has, accounting for 14.5% of global man-made greenhouse gas emissions, 41% of which comes from cattle, which require more water and food than other livestock.
Cattle feed usually consists of mostly soy, whose cultivation is of particular concern as is one of the main causes of deforestation in South America.
Branson said, “Reducing meat consumption is a growing trend, driven by health and environmental considerations.”
“Cows, pigs, sheep and chickens did not evolve to be shoved in a large, dark warehouse and pumped full of feed,” he added, saying that in the future people would have to switch to less intensive sources of protein such as synthetic meat or insects.
“In a world where more people are now dying from obesity than malnutrition – when hundreds of millions of people still don’t have enough to eat – and when it’s estimated that 70% more food will be needed by 2050, we can’t solve this problem by simply continuing to make ‘conventional’ intensive farming more intensive.
“And reducing our consumption would reduce the need for these industries to keep up with that demand,” he said.
A recent study has found that high meat diets have more than double the amount of the greenhouse gas emissions than the average vegan diet, with previous separate research arguing that a tax on meat is needed to tackle climate change.
Photo: Jeff Rizzo via flickr