Eating To Save The Planet

Alix-Rose Cowie Eating for the Planet Casimir


A quarter pounder with cheese and all the garnish, fresh T-bones on the barbeque, deep fried calamari and warm roast lamb on Sundays. It’s the stuff dreams are made of. All that meaty, salty goodness is entrenched in our culture and there is nothing as wonderful as a feast on the absolute deliciousness of it all. But, have you considered the impact that meat eating has on the environment? Would you consider changing the way you eat for the sake of the planet?

Sustainable diets have become the focus of many environmental movements around¬†the world. Climatarians, identified by their catchy¬†slogan ‚Äúless meat, less heat‚Äù, focus on reducing overall CO2 emissions¬†through lower meat consumption, and therefore reducing global temperatures in¬†the long term. In fact, at they state that reducing meat¬†consumption to what’s considered a healthy amount would allow us to keep global temperature¬†rise to within 2 degrees celcius by 2050. This fact also highlights that at the moment,¬†the average Western person is consuming too much meat for their own health.

There is also the sustainarian concept of eating. This form of sustainable eating focuses on the way food is produced and whether or not the producing practices have a long term negative effect on the environment. This form of sustainable eating would avoid any kind of farmed meat, would lean towards local produce and would take into account agricultural practises when deciding what to have for dinner.


Alix-Rose Cowie Eating for the Planet Casimir


The meat industry contributes to twenty percent of global carbon emissions. That means twenty percent towards our global warming crisis. We know that a large consumption of meat is showing to be less than optimal for our health. Finally, we are aware that the treatment of animals in the food industry is very bad and at times downright inhumane. We are all conscious that our planet is taking strain, in fact we know it’s in trouble. Many of us are trying our best to make lifestyle changes that could help. When it comes to our diets though, we tend to get a little more protective. Food is pleasure. Sometimes nothing is going to satisfy that craving for a triple cheese steak, except a triple cheese steak. We are by nature’s design, omnivores, created to eat both animals and plants. Our meat eating ways are a primal instinct that we may find difficult to let go of. Eating, at the end of the day, is a selfish act. We eat to nourish ourselves and we eat for the pleasure of it.

One sustainable eating movement that sticks out just for the amount of traction they have gained, particularly with ever conscious millenials, is the movement known as reducetarian. This movement focuses on reducing the consumption of animal protein. It deviates from the necessity of an all or nothing approach. In this way it speaks to people who are not quite ready to give up our double glazed, sweet and sour, flame grilled ribs on a permanent basis but, at the same time may be questioning the ethical and health implications attached to their carnivorous preferences. We know it takes a lot of water to make that quarter pounder. In fact according to National Geographic, we need nearly seven thousand litres to make half a kilogram of beef. That’s a lot of water, especially in these El Nino times where parts of the world are getting pretty parched.

The reducetarian movement’s name speaks volumes. Their founder, Brian Kateman gave an inspiring Ted talk explaining the need for a word. First of all, this term is inclusive aiming to bridge the divide between vegans and meat eaters. Under this definition a vegan can also be a reducetarian. As humans, we like definitions. We like categories. We trust them and it helps us to organize our thoughts to propel us to make decisions. So, if you are not sure you can manage vegetarianism or veganism, but you do want to start making sustainable health choices, this makes it easier to explain your dining habits to your curious carnivore friends, as well as define it for yourself. The website encourages you to start with a pledge to reduce meat eating for 30 days, and gives you a strategy to pick from. Meatless Monday? Not too difficult. A week day vegetarian? That seems doable.

The global impact of this movement has the potential to be huge. If every single person on the planet practiced a Meatless Monday, it would have the same effect as taking 237 million vehicles off the road for a year. If we all cut our meat and dairy consumption by half, we could reduce carbon emissions from the industry by 25 percent.


Alix-Rose Cowie Eating for the Planet Casimir


A reducetarian way of eating alleviates the pressure to be perfect, while at the same time expresses the human capacity for caring about the world outside. It means you can have a plate of your mom’s special pot roast, while also collectively making a huge impact on the planet. In an interview with Huffington Post, Brian Kateman said, “Reducetarianism unites all the individuals who are committed to eating less meat regardless of where they fall along the spectrum of consuming animal products. This is a difficult, but an important realization for many of my vegan and vegetarian friends: not everyone is able, or willing, to follow a completely animal-product-free diet.”

This really rings true on my own quest to become a vegan. I find myself falling off the wagon, sometimes just out of pure hunger. A few weeks of perfect eating inevitably lead to a break down of guilt ridden burger-eating and milkshake-drinking. However, under the reducetarian umbrella this would be perfectly acceptable. I could do this, knowing I am making a difference, even though I don’t have perfect will power.


Alix-Rose Cowie Eating for the Planet Casimir


If you are still feeling that a Monday without meat is going to be a major sacrifice,¬†don‚Äôt lose hope. There’s always lab-grown! Scientists around the world have pegged onto the fact that meaty¬†tastes are not going to be sustainable long term. In preparation they’ve started to grow our favourite foods in science¬†labs. In as soon as three to five years you can have your favourite meaty delights¬†including beef, chicken and pork grown from stem cells. This method of¬†creating meat claims to use 90% less water, 50% less energy and no animals have to¬†die. So hang in there, science is out to solve this dilemma. In the mean time take a¬†look at your diet and think about sustainable eating as the way of future.


Alix-Rose Cowie Eating for the Planet Casimir

Alix-Rose Cowie Eating for the Planet Casimir


Photography by Alix-Rose Cowie


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