Sustainability and student life – your choices matter.

A basket of fruit and vegetables

A few weeks ago, I attended the world’s first Compassion in World Farming Extinction and Livestock Conference in London. Over two days, more than 500 experts, campaigners, policy-makers and business leaders from around the globe gathered together to explore the impact of livestock production on the future of life on this planet. Presentations and workshops were held on a wide variety of topics from conservation, biodiversity, population, agriculture, the UN DDGs, health and healthy eating, land and water use, the environment, climate change, ethics, food policy, food business and food security.

 

Philip Lymbery speaking at the compassion in World Farming Conference 2017

Amidst the fervent chats and speeches that illuminated the QEII Conference Centre, I had the opportunity to pick the brains of guest speakers and attendees for the Stop the Machine podcast with Journalist, Gilly Smith.

So, what did I learn and why is this information important to you. Well, as inhabitants of this fair planet and possibly, the decision makers of the future, it might be in your interest to pay attention to the state of the globe and the world that your children will one day, grow up in. At the risk of creating panic,- essentially, our planet is a ticking time bomb and if we do not do something to end intensive factory farming, slow down population growth, revive our soils and develop a food system that is both sustainable for the planet and for us, then we are heading towards a mass extinction event, not seen since the dinosaurs.

If you are still wondering why this concerns you, then perhaps consider, at present our planet is over-carbonised, our ecosystems are being destroyed, we are overweight, diet-related illnesses are bankrupting our healthcare systems, we are mass producing food and, yet people are starving. The world is on track to lose two-thirds of its wildlife by the end of this decade, largely because habitats have been destroyed to produce food for humans. The overuse of antibiotics in the farming industry has given rise to “superbugs” and antibiotic resistance in humans, and methane emissions from livestock continue to affect climate change.

The good news is that we are living longer, and our generation can change the damaging food culture and environmental neglect that we have inherited.

Still confused? I get it, -sometimes it’s hard to care about the things we can’t see and the changes we can’t feel. It’s difficult to understand the impact of our daily choices and how they affect the world around us. Deciding what to eat is just one example of these choices, but how often do we really think about what we eat or where that food comes from. Fighting global warming on your own may seem like a hopeless task, but being more conscious, aware and ethical about what you consume allows you to play an important role in a much wider issue.

 

Philip Lymbery, CEO of CIWF, and author of Deadzone and Farmaggedon, had a simple message; ‘we need to move to a system of more plants, less meat, ensuring that the meat and dairy comes from pasture fed, free-range, organic sources.’

Intensive factory farming in Florida.

Given that students aren’t the most affluent members of society, it can be hard to make food choices that are smart for your pocket, the environment and your body, however, since cutting down on animal products, I have found that a plant based diet is much more efficient for my pocket and far more beneficial long-term. That aside, think about the earth and the way your life choices are interlinked with it. You may blab on about how amazing Blue Planet is every week and yet you chow down on Big Macs and cheap factory farmed meat without a second thought. You love your pet dog or cat as though they are human and disregard other animals as if their only purpose is to feed us. We forget that animals are sentient beings, with intelligence and emotions. There needs to be a realisation that the choices we make have a much bigger impact on a global scale, and sadly time is running out for many.

My Lymbery believes that: “Many people are aware that wild animals such as penguins, elephants and jaguars are threatened by extinction. However, few know that livestock production, fuelled by consumer demand for cheap meat, is one of the biggest drivers of species extinction and biodiversity loss on the planet.”

It’s about making small changes, you don’t have to give up animal products entirely, just be a bit more discerning about what you purchase. Go to the butcher, know where your meat comes from. Maybe go plant-based twice a week. Buy a reusable coffee cup and water bottle. Walk or cycle instead of driving every day. Buy seasonal food, look for products that are grown locally and sustainably.

It sounds simple because it is.

 

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