Less animals More plants - on our land and our plates
Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet. ~ Albert Einstein
Where are we now
Dairy cow numbers in NZ have doubled in 24 years, to 6.5million cows.
No, this is not about finger pointing, unlike much of the news media with their clickbait and divisive headlines.
Yes, the urbanites have some serious cleaning up to do too.
But, let’s put things in perspective. The dairy herd in the Canterbury region has expanded in the last few years to 1.3 million cows. That’s equivalent to the poo and pee output of 17 million people. The human population of Christchurch is less than 1/2 a million.
The New Zealand dairy herd alone has the fecal equivalent of 90 million people.
Fortunately, while our rivers and lakes would benefit from a reduction in cow numbers, demand for meat is falling and demand for quality plant foods is increasing, for both health and animal welfare reasons.
China is looking to drop meat consumption in half. Veganism in the US jumped to 6%, up from 1% in 2014. In Britain veganism has increased 360% in 10 years. Vegan is becoming very cool and the future is more plant-based food in our diets.
One day the absurdity of the almost universal belief in the slavery of other animals will be palpable. We shall then have discovered our souls and become worthier of sharing this planet with them. ~ Dr. Martin Luther King
People who ate the most plant-based foods were the healthiest and tended to avoid chronic disease. ~ T. Colin Campbell, author of The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted
Every day seems to bring another thought-provoking article detailing the problems of the more recent intensive and industrial approach to dairy production, and what might be coming next. With the quite reasonable expectations average New Zealanders have for clean water, it’s time for some skilfully facilitated dialogue, with all affected parties and potential solution-makers.
We're in transition
The call for dairying in its extensive and intensive form to end, is now coming from within the industry. Steve Carden, and the team at PÅMU (Landcorp) are aware of the drivers of change, and last month Steve presented some of his ideas at this years Environmental Defence Society Tipping Points Conference.
In his presentation, Steve broke it down to these key recommendations to farmers:
- Be responsible
- Produce food differently [and diversify]
- Accept that diets are changing [more plant based, less animal based]
- Go Niche!
- Tap into food for health movement
- Get real about true cost of food
Traceability, via the blockchain is I would suggest another and powerful trend that can show each consumer the very source of every bottle of milk, block of cheese, or packet of mince.
Just as we grew our dairy herd, farm by farm, so we can use all our smarts and ingenuity to make the move to other more ecologically sound forms of agriculture. Ones that meet the growing demand of today's consumers, which amongst other thing is soon going to be able to express (through purchasing choices), its desire for drinkable rivers.
Michael Mayell and James Samuel are grateful for the many contributions that have informed this article.
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