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by Sara Hyder and Dan Kidby
Our environment is in crisis. All of us, our scientists, academics and even our politicians agree that we are on the brink of ecological disaster. If we let the global temperature of our planet increase by just 2°, our environment will be at the whim of a destructively unstable climate. For many it may not be immediately obvious why Meat Free Mondays is an environmentally progressive initiative, but the reality is that livestock production is one of, if not the, leading cause of environmental degradation. Several organisations, including the UN, have now expressed concern about the sustainability of a meat and dairy diet. Recent studies have shown that livestock production is directly responsible for up to 51% of greenhouse gas emissions.
These figures may at first seem surprising, but the truth is that behind every steak, egg or glass of milk there are several environmentally damaging industries at work.
Our rainforests, the lungs of our planet, are being destroyed at a rate of one acre per second by golems of heavy machinery to clear way for cattle that are bred for slaughter. Livestock production is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, habitat destruction and water pollution. One fifth of the human population are born into areas of water scarcity, in a world where we are happy to use 660 gallons of water just to produce one burger. We produce enough grain to feed 10 billion people, yet we take this food out of the mouths of nearly a billion malnourished and starving human beings and instead feed it to livestock. From a sustainability perspective this is catastrophic, if the whole of the world’s population were to eat a Western diet we would need two planets to supply this demand. We only have one.
All of these problems can be solved with a gradual progression towards a plant-based diet. This would put a lot less strain on the planet and on every level of production is more efficient, ethical and environmentally friendly.
This is why we are campaigning for the LSESU to engage with the Meat Free Mondays campaign, by mandating for all LSE catering establishments to stop selling meat products (including fish) on Mondays. Our motion will be going forward to a UGM on Thursday 12th March, and after that the students and faculty of LSE will be able to vote for or against making Meat Free Mondays an official LSE policy. We urge you to please vote in favour of this motion, as it would reduce our university’s engagement with environmentally regressive industries, and in turn improve our overall carbon footprint.
However, with this strong environmental focus it is too easy to forget that what we are talking about are living, breathing, feeling beings, with extraordinary capacities to develop strong social ties and emotional bonds. The aim of the LSESU Animal Rights Society is to show people that animals should be given equal moral consideration to that of any human being. So although Meat Free Mondays is not a complete solution to these ethical and environmental concerns, we feel it is a step in the right direction towards a growing consciousness that deems the health of this planet as important, and animals worthy of our care and respect.
Please support our campaign and vote yes to Meat Free Mondays at UGM this Thursday!
Vote on the motion at lsesu.com/vote between 2pm on Thursday at 5pm on Friday.