Should your workplace ban meat?

by Emma Batha | @emmabatha | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Wednesday, 18 July 2018 18:48 GMT

People work in offices in a building of Barcelona city, Spain January 31, 2018. REUTERS/Albert Gea

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If everyone became vegetarian by 2050, food-related emissions would drop by about 60 percent

By Emma Batha

LONDON, July 18 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Office-sharing company WeWork, which operates in 22 countries, is going meat-free and will ban its 6,000 staff from expensing meals containing meat in a bid to "leave a better world for future generations".

Environmentalists say livestock farming is a major contributor to global warming. Here are some facts:

- Livestock accounts for more than 14 percent of planet warming emissions, mainly from animal burping, manure and feed production.

- Production of animal-based foods accounts for two-thirds of agricultural greenhouse gas emissions and three-quarters of agricultural land use, while only contributing 37 percent of the global protein supply.

- If cattle were a nation, they would rank third behind China and the United States among the world's largest greenhouse gas emitters.

- The livestock industry is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than the world's biggest oil companies.

- The combined emissions of the top 20 meat and dairy companies exceed the emissions of entire countries such as Germany or the United Kingdom.

- A quarter of the world's landmass, excluding Antarctica, is used for pasture.

- Cattle release methane, nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide. Methane, which traps far more heat than carbon dioxide, is released mainly through belching.

- Scientists are looking at how to make livestock less gassy by breeding animals that burp less or adjusting their diets - including feeding them seaweed.

- If the 2 billion biggest consumers of meat in the world shifted towards plant-based foods, it could save an area twice the size of India, making it easier to feed a growing world population without cutting down more forests.

- It takes 25kg of grain to produce 1kg of beef and roughly 15,000 litres of water.

- Per gramme of protein, producing beef takes 20 times as much land, and emits 20 times as many greenhouse gases, as producing beans.

- Producing chicken takes three times as much land, and emits three times as many greenhouse gases, as producing beans, per gramme of protein.

- Americans eat about 10 billion burgers each year. Replacing 30 percent of the beef with mushrooms would have the same impact as taking 2.3 million cars off the road.

- If everyone became vegetarian by 2050, food-related emissions would drop by about 60 percent. If they went vegan, the decline would be around 70 percent.

Sources: World Resources Institute, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Food and Agriculture Organization, Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food

(Writing by Emma Batha, Editing by Claire Cozens. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, which covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit news.trust.org to see more stories.)

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