I love meat. Bacon, steaks, burgers, chilli con carne, chicken fajitas, pizza…..topped with meat, meat balls, I could go on, I just love meat! But as much as it pains me to write this, it’s becoming increasingly aware to me that I need to eat less of it. Here are my top five reasons why:

1. Methane is 20-times more powerful at trapping heat in the earth’s atmosphere than CO2. Cows create 120kg of methane a year compared to humans 0.12kg. This methane aids climate change, which hits the poorest people hardest. Climate change causes unpredictable rainfall leading to more droughts and floods. More droughts mean a greater risk of famine, and floods can destroy homes and livelihoods.

2. It takes 600 gallons of water to produce just one burger! We may think of water as a never ending resource, but in reality less than 1% of water on the earth can be used by people. The rest is salt water, or permanently frozen. As our population grows we need to modify our water habits to ensure there is enough for everyone.

3. The equivalent of seven football fields are bulldozed every minute to create more room for farmed animals. This includes rainforests which are vitally important. Rainforests act like a giant sponge, it is believed they store over half of the earth’s rainwater. Trees also help to cleanse our atmosphere by absorbing CO2 and and providing oxygen.

4. To produce 1lb of meat, it requires 16lb of grain. What an inefficient way to produce food! In a world where people are starving, we’re using more food, to create less food, simply because we like to eat meat.

5. Research now suggests that eating too much protein could reduce your lifespan. Even if that turns out not to be true, too much red meat has links to heart disease and cancer.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not about to become a vegetarian, although I do admire people who are. I think meat is to be enjoyed, but we do seem to have developed an unhealthy relationship with it. I viewed it as the staple of a meal, and used to mock my house mate for buying quorn mince and not beef (sorry Pam!)

The amount of meat we eat as western society is not sustainable in a growing population, as the reality of climate change becomes more and more real. I have been inspired by one of the Rhythms actions to eat a few vegetarian meals a day, so here goes! Veggie lunch here I come.

This article first appeared on Rhythms on 8 October 2012. You can read more inspiring articles from the Rhythms community here. Have you read the Justice Generation manifesto? Sign up here to do your bit to change the world.

Image by Eastbourne Hotels, via stock.xchng images.

Written by James Cobbett // Follow James on  Twitter // James'  Website

James is a web developer spending half the week working for Tearfund, and the other half for himself. As well as being passionate about social justice and sustainable living, James also loves sports and can often be found watching football, basketball and the NFL.

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