World population reaches 7 billion… time to change the way we eat

A crowd of peopleToday the population of a planet already struggling with dwindling resources and severely iniquitous and overstretched food systems reaches seven billion. Scientists estimate that we will pass the 9 billion mark by 2050 and hit 10 billion by the end of the century.

All of which means it is long past time to rethink the way we feed ourselves – and cutting back on meat is one of the easiest and most efficient ways we can do this, ensuring our future food security, that more people are fed and fewer go hungry, and protection both the environment and the health of those who live on it.

In a world where nearly one billion people are starving, one third of all cereal crops – and well over 90 per cent of soya – goes into animal feed, not food for humans. Producing and eating less meat can free up these crops for human consumption.

Reducing meat consumption saves precious water. The estimated 634 gallons of fresh water required to produce a single beef burger equate to taking a four-hour shower.

In 2008, global meat consumption was 280 million tonnes per year; by 2050 it is expected to reach 465 million tonnes. The meat and livestock industry is already one of the world’s worst polluters; breeding more livestock will results in even more greenhouse gases.

World scientists on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change agree that we need to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere by 80 per cent by 2050 in order to have a chance of avoiding catastrophic climate change. No single action will achieve this – businesses, industry, government and individuals need to work together – but campaigns such as Meat Free Monday are a great place to start. One day a week can make all the difference.