For my GCSE English Exam, I have to do a speech (Spoken Language) and I decided to answer the question, "Should the consumption of animal products per able individual be limited in accordance with a Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill and the Government’s Obesity Strategy?" I have written it in the form of an essay, so I thought that it may make an interesting read.
To begin with, meet Severn Cullis-Suzuki, a Canadian woman born in 1980. You may be thinking, what does this woman have to do with animal product consumption? Severn turned 12 in 1992 and she had the honour of speaking to the United Nations Plenary Session of the Earth Summit of 1992 in Rio and she has since been compared to today’s Greta Thunberg due to that speech. She said, “Losing my future is not like losing an election or a few coins on stock market. I am here to speak for starving children and countless animals dying across this planet because they have nowhere left to go… I challenge you, please, for you actions to reflect your words.” Apparently even the security officers were paying attention, but not the politicians, who chose not to make radical change to avoid the climate catastrophe that has caused the Australian and American Wildfires as well as the less-documented droughts in Africa. Unlike the politicians of 1992, our leaders have no choice but to take radical action and listen to scientists and youth activists, like Severn Cullis-Suzuki, otherwise they will forever be known to have condemned this planet to its doom.
The Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill will be collection of thoughts and ideas from the Citizen’s Assembly. It has been demanded by activist groups such as Extinction Rebellion, who have protested against large organisations, including the Government, for not taking drastic climate action. One of these actions will be to reduce the meat and dairy consumption of our nation.
A person who eats meat is responsible for the consumption of 5,000 litres of water per day on average. That is enough water to sustain a person for 1,000 days. While that person is eating a steak, 780 million people do not have access to a clean water source. Whereas a vegetarian’s water consumption is at 1,000 to 2,000 litres per day. The western world’s want for meat comes at the cost of the poor’s needs. If we want to tackle the development gap, which would be the moral thing to do, we have to look at our diet’s first.
However, some could argue that this breaches Article 8 of The Human Rights Act 1998. It states that you have the right to enjoy your existing home peacefully. This would include dietary choices, family life and religion. On the other-hand, there are restrictions to this act. Public authorities have the right to intervene once that they have shown that the action is lawful to protect rights such as public safety, health or morals or the rights and freedoms of other people. This Act does not mention whether public safety takes into consideration the safety of future generations. If this were to be the case, the Government has the freedom to restrict the amount of animal products we consume to secure a safe planet for the public, if they believe that it would uphold these fundamental human rights.
There are also multiple ethical issues with animal farming. For example, take a roast chicken. It is of an average size, as you expect it to be from your Waitrose butchery, and is enough to keep your family of three going for a couple of days. However, this hen is 4.6 times the size of her 14th grandmother. Why, you may ask? This girl has been fed hormones that force her to grow at a humungous rate, so much so that by the end of her life, her legs broke due to the massive force put upon them. No living creature deserves to die in pain. If the Government controlled the amount of animal products consumed the number of animals suffering would be significantly reduced in the UK.
A counter-argument would be that animal protein is nutritious while many plant proteins are incomplete and therefore lack in one essential amino acid. Nevertheless, there is a resolution to this problem. If the population were to supplement their animal protein with ‘complete’ proteins from plants, such as grains or tofu, they would have enough amino acids to stay healthy. Pigs are considered the fifth most-intelligent animal in the world, with an IQ of 20, while dogs are behind them with an IQ of 19. So, if a pig has more empathy and intelligence than a dog, then why do we believe that one belongs on the dinner table while the other is best friend? If the Government limits the amount of meat we consume, could pigs become our best friends too?
Climate change is also a profound reason to reduce your animal product consumption. Animal agriculture accounts for 13% of our carbon emissions, causing oceans to rise, droughts and biodiversity loss. It also indirectly causes the destruction of habitats as land is cleared for grazing and for crops that are grown to feed these animals. We are in the midst of the sixth mass extinction, and if the Government does not act now, the only place you will see a hedgehog will be in a conservation centre. 60% of mammals on earth are livestock while only 36% are humans. 1 in 7 humans are chronically malnourished. Would it not be more logical to directly feed humans with plants and cut out the middle man of livestock? The Government could reduce the UK’s impact on the destruction of ecosystems as well as stop feeding world hunger.
Today, Britain is the sixth fattest nation in the world. 27% of Britons are considered obese. One man went vegan for a month and dropped from a body fat of 13% to 12%. Do you see the correlation? Plant-based diets reduce your fat intake and increase your health and energy. Preventable illnesses, such as coronary heart disease, are crippling the NHS on which this nation is constantly supported by. One hundred doctors, including Dr. Baczynska and Kassam, have asked the Government bring in innovative laws to tackle climate change and obesity. The Government has since agreed to some of these plans, including the banning of junk food adverts before 9pm, in their Obesity Strategy. However, they did not mention the most vital points, including the ban of industrially sourced animal products and fatty foods as well as the move to a plant-based food system through the Conservation of Agriculture and to a post-antibiotic era. If the Government wants what is best for its citizens, then why does it not lead the way when it comes to good health that is achieved by diet?
In conclusion, the Government should support the movement towards a more plant-based food system, both for the health of its citizens as well as the health of fellow species and planet Earth.