When we see the words ‘cutting down’ in relation to the environment, we assume the worst and imagine logging in the rainforest, or creating space for new ranches and farms. Well ‘cutting down’ is not entirely negative: for the past eight months I have cut down how much meat and fish I eat.
My reason for restricting myself to one meat day and one fish day a week is simple, food shortages remain a constant threat. Despite improved farming technology and strategy used to overcome adverse weather conditions, the problem has not been solved. Approaches to agriculture are forced to change, creating climate-resistant crops and developing strategies to ensure an adequate food supply. You may have seen the drastic suggestion to start a colony on Mars to highlight the ongoing fear about Earth’s balance between resources and population: http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/news/nr/mars-mission-could-solve-earth-biggest-issues-says-university-of-sheffield-student-1.340116 .
Before we all wallow in Malthusian despair that we do not have enough food for people on Earth, I want to reflect on my choice to cut down. Eating less meat reduces the amount of grain needed to feed livestock, grain which can readily feed more people than a cow or chicken could feed. Eating less fish, and eating fish lower on the food chain, also has the same effect with more fish available. With a growing, and widespread, taste for meat and fish in countries like China and India there is growing demand on resources. I have simply decided to reduce my want of meat and fish to balance out this growing demand – well at least the counteract the growing demand of one person. This way there is no need for increased production of meat and fish.
Some of you may be wondering why I have not gone completely veggie, well I enjoy eating meat and fish. The fear of food shortages should not mean we restrict ourselves entirely. I am now more thoughtful about my approach to food, and trying to be sensible about food wastage, only buying what I need. The food we waste each day – 7 million slices of bread; 5.1 million potatoes; 2.8 million tomatoes; 1.6 million bananas; 1.3 million yoghurts and yoghurts drinks; 1.2 million sausages; 1 million slices of ham; 300,000 un-opened packet of crisps – is in complete contrast to the fears we have about food shortages. Colonising Mars, and surviving on essential food items, is a measure to make humans more thoughtful about current wastage and upcoming shortages. Why are shock tactics needed: the solution is already clear, cutting down meat and fish consumption, and our food wastage, helps the environment.