We eat every day to sustain ourselves on this earth. Different types of foods are found in the diet of human-being. Among the dietary components, meat is one of the indispensable food groups in our diet plan. Meat serving as a core source of protein in our daily diet menu. It helps to build muscle and other organs of the human body. It also helps to produce the immunoglobulin of our immune system. Simply, this information indicates meat has great importance for our body. But if we consider this issue from the environmental and physical point of view, we will be able to visualize the negative impact of meat consumption. Because excessive meat consumption causes climate change.
Nowadays climate change is the most discussed term on the globe. Some of the anthropogenic activities are badly fueling climate change. Meat consumption is one of them. Meat consumption contributed equally to alter the state of climate and human health as well. It is one of the greatest risk factors for different types of NCDs (Non-Communicable Diseases) in the human body.
According to the Department of Livestock (DLS), "about 75.14 lakh metric tons of meat was produced in the year of 2018-2019 which is almost 2.54 lakh metric tons higher than the previous fiscal year (2017-18)". On the other hand livestock population in Bangladesh is currently estimated to comprise 25.7 million cattle, 0.83 million buffaloes, 14.8 million goats, 1.9 million sheep, 118.7 million chickens, and 34.1 million ducks. The density of livestock has been increasing tremendously in the past two years. This trend clearly states that the amount of meat consumption and production is soaring day by day.
So let's know the fact; How meat consumption causes climate change or global warming? There are several reasons behind this. Firstly, when it comes to cattle farming you need to cut down forests and trees to clear space for cattle ranching and to grow animal feed. It results in deforestation everywhere and we all know that deforestation is the biggest cause of global warming. Deforestation Healthy trees are indispensable for absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere. Secondly, a huge amount of space is needed for cattle farming and it reduces the number of green creatures around the globe. As a result, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere will be over the top. Then it helps to increase global warming. On the other hand, land degradation and expanding deserts threaten the whole biodiversity. It will affect food security, increase poverty and drive migration. As a result, a country like Bangladesh will be more vulnerable to natural disasters. This is how excessive meat consumption can be disastrous.
Thirdly, cattle farming also destroys wildlife by altering ecological and biodiversity balance. Due to excessive cattle farming wildlife will be endangered and they may be disappeared from the earth. If it happens anywhere, it will be a great loss for mankind as they are indispensable for our existence. Wildlife reduction will threaten the existence of humankind on the earth.
Fourthly, meat consumption creates an opportunity for mutual contact between humans and animals which is very notorious for human health. Because three-quarters of new diseases come from animals and the nature of the disease was infectious. This means if we have close contact with animals, the chances of being infected with zoonotic disease may increase. Which is not desired for us. To visualize this issue in detail, we have to look at every village of Bangladesh where a few years ago there was no cattle farm but nowadays at least one cattle farm is present in each house. Due to the escalation of cattle farming, the need for cattle feed is also soaring. More and more land is using to produce cattle feed, especially hybrid grass. Besides a huge amount of infrastructure is developed to meet the growing demand for cattle farming. All these things put a conjugated effect on the climate and surely the effect is notorious. The rate of zoonotic disease outbreaks is increasing very rapidly which is badly fueling pandemics like COVID-19. Another infectious disease may spread due to mutual contact between humans and animals. We all know the disastrous effect of pandemics as we are experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic. A pandemic can easily alter the climate which visible nowadays in every corner of the world. In this way, climate change may happen.
Finally, meat consumption is not an efficient way to produce food. The term efficient means the proper arrangement of everything without harming the environment from farm to table. As I discussed earlier that meat consumption contributes to climate change, so it is not an efficient way to produce food. If we can ensure proper use of land and reduce the amount of meat consumption it will be very helpful for the environment. You will be astonished to know that over a quarter area of land in the world is used as a graze or to grow food for farm animals. On the other hand, 1kg of chicken meat takes 3.2kg of crops to produce. All these things put a conjugative effect to alter the atmospheric state of the globe which is ultimately known as climate change.
Presently, the restaurant business is booming because people are loving meat-based food. Colorful advertisements and cheerful presentations helping to increase hunger and it is the tactics of the food company. If you go through the online platforms for buying food you will observe that most of the items are meat-based. It means the rate of meat consumption is increasing day by day. For this reason, the production of meat-based food is also increasing and this is the major cause of climate change in Bangladesh.
To fight climate change we ought to reduce meat consumption. If we eat less meat, the production of meat products will also be curtailed. Ultimately, the negative of meat consumption will be lesser. If everyone ate a plant-based diet, 75% less land use will lessen than we use today. That's an area equivalent to the USA, China, Europe, and Australia mingled. This is how we can reduce excessive land use in meat-based food production. We need to be eating at least 70% less meat by 2030 to cut down on the climate crisis. By eating plant-based food we will get the right nutrition and our body will be active and healthy. On the contrary, less meat consumption will help to tackle climate change. So let's act together to reduce meat consumption and to build a happy and healthier planet.
Author Post Graduate Student of Biological Science Islamic University, Bangladesh.
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