Our love of eating meat has long cultural traditions. The initial evolutionary success of the human species was based on our ability to catch and eat large mammals. We have since learnt to domesticate cattle, sheep, pigs, chicken and many other species purely so we can eat their flesh. But the chickens are coming home to roost. Livestock farming now accounts for 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions and according to the latest UN report, this number is set to increase 75% by 2050. This problem can’t be solved by just switching to green energy sources. Cattle and the other ruminants emit methane, a much more potent source of greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide; over a 5-year period methane traps up to 100 times more heat in the atmosphere.
It is possible for humans to change their eating habits. For thousands of years Hindus have avoided eating beef. Brahmins are vegetarian. Jews and Muslims have been taught to avoid pork. If we are to avoid the worst excesses of climate change we need a new moral initiative to dish the meat and become vegetarian.