“From ego to eco”, how food changes our world

“From ego to eco”, this is the incipit of the workshop held by an association called Brighter Green. This organization, located in New York, deals with policies and food equity, especially in India, Brazil, China ed Ethiopia, and with the relationship between climate change and animal agriculture.

Nowadays, intensive breeding is the first cause of the loss of species and biodiversity. In fact, more and more lands are being stolen to create new farms: 30% of the ground on our planet is directly used by animals and 70% of the cultivated lands produce animal feed (mainly corn and soy). As a consequence, many countries are subjected to deforestation to get cultivation (currently, on Earth, there are about 10 animals reared for meat each human being).

Intensive breeding and animal derivatives’ production (like eggs and diary), generate also a great deal of greenhouse gases, about 14.5% of total emissions. Nonetheless, meat consumption pro capita is growing all around the world. Two Chinese members of Brighter Green, Xinyi Lin and Zhu Qing, stressed the persistence of this problem in their country: every year Chinese breed, for their meat and eggs, 11,9 billion chickens, every chicken requires 500 ml water per day, making the yearly water consumption reach the amount of 2,340 olympic-size swimming pools.
Statistics say that by 2050, 120 billion animals will be bred and they will produce 20 Gt of CO2.

The solution seems to be stopping eating meat. Reducing meat consumption could definitely reduce greenhouse gases emissions, but if we eliminated all animal products from our diet, the problem would be simply shifted to other types of food. While the members of the association didn’t mention the exploitation of non-animal resources, a researcher from the audience pointed out some current issues which are often underestimated or undisclosed. The avocado, a particularly appreciated exotic fruit, is the “new trend” among vegans. Its production requires vast plantations which cause the destruction of many trees in the Mexican forests. Another example given by the researcher is almond milk, taken by many people as an alternative to cow’s milk. Almond trees need a high amount of water to grow, making therefore the drought problem in California more and more serious.

In order to achieve concrete results we need to change our mentality radically, broadening our points of view and taking into consideration the possible consequences of our actions. Finally, when it comes to intensive animal farming we have to take sensible decisions which ponder the effects of activity on our planet.

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