Five things would happen if everyone stopped eating meat

Livestock are responsible for consuming the majority
of the world's grains and soy crops. 
Getty Images
Mimi Bekhech, 31.01.2016

"We've come to the end of World Week for the Abolition of Meat, but people in the west still won't make a simple change that could change the fortunes of the whole world.

Today marks the end of World Week for the Abolition of Meat – an appropriate time to ask ourselves what would happen if those of us who live in the developed world, with its ample choices, opted for a beet burger instead of a beef burger every time we sat down to eat. (Hint: cows would not take over the world.) 

The world's hungry would no longer be hungry

Yes, your beef or pork may be locally grown, but what about the animals' feed? Vegetarians and vegans aren't gobbling up all the grains and soybeans - cattle are. A staggering 97 per cent of the world's soya crop is fed to livestock.
It would take 40 million tons of food to eliminate the most extreme cases of world hunger, yet nearly 20 times that amount of grain is fed to farmed animals every year in order to produce meat. In a world where an estimated 850 million people do not have enough to eat, it is criminally wasteful to feed perfectly edible food to animals on farms in order to produce a burger rather than feeding it directly to people, especially when you consider that it takes roughly six pounds of grain to produce one pound of pork. As long as a single child goes hungry, this kind of waste is unconscionable.

There would more land available for our growing population  

Countries around the globe are bulldozing huge swathes of land in order to make room for more factory farms to house all the additional chickens, cows and other animals as well as for the huge quantities of crops needed to feed them. But when you eat plant foods directly, instead of indirectly eating bushels and bushels of grain and soya that have been funnelled through animals first, you need a lot less land.
Vegfam, a charity which funds sustainable plant-food projects, estimates that a 10-acre farm can support 60 people by growing soybeans, 24 people by growing wheat or 10 people by growing maize, but only two by raising cattle. What's more, Dutch scientists predict that 2.7 billion hectares of land currently used for cattle grazing would be freed up by global vegetarianism, along with 100 million hectares of land currently used to grow crops for livestock.
With the population of the UK expected to exceed 70 million by 2030, we'll need all the land we can get to accommodate the extra demand for living space and food.

Billions of animals would avoid a lifetime of suffering

On many industrial farms, animals are kept in cramped conditions and will never raise families, forage for food or do anything else that is natural and important to them. Most won't even get to feel the warmth of the sun on their backs or breathe fresh air until the day they are loaded onto lorries headed for the abattoir. There is no better way to help animals and prevent their suffering than by choosing not to eat them. 

The risk of dangerous antibiotic resistance would reduce

Factory-farmed animals are disease-ridden as a result of being crammed by the thousands into filthy sheds, which are a breeding ground for new strains of dangerous bacteria and viruses. Pigs, chickens and other animals on factory farms are fed a steady diet of drugs to keep them alive in these unsanitary, stressful conditions, increasing the chance that drug-resistant superbugs will develop.
A senior officer with the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation called the intensive industrial farming of livestock an “opportunity for emerging disease”, while the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared that “much of antibiotic use in animals is unnecessary and inappropriate and makes everyone less safe”.
Sure, the overprescribing of antibiotics for humans plays a part in antibiotic resistance. But eliminating the factory farms from which many antibiotic-resistant bacteria emerge would make it more likely that we could continue to count on antibiotics to cure serious illnesses.

The NHS would be under less strain

Obesity is literally killing British people. The NHS has warned that, if left unchecked, the country's obesity rates will bankrupt the health service. Meat, dairy foods and eggs – all of which contain cholesterol and saturated fat – are the main culprits in obesity, which contributes to the UK's top killers: heart attacks, strokes, diabetes and various types of cancer.
Yes, there are overweight vegetarians and vegans, just as there are skinny meat-eaters. But, on average, vegans are about one-tenth as likely to be obese as their meat eating counterparts. Once you replace high-fat animal-derived foods with healthy fruits, veggies and grains, it becomes a lot harder to pile on the pounds. What's more, many health problems can be alleviated and even reversed by switching to a plant-based diet. 
Going vegan might not make the world a perfect place, but it would help make it a kinder, greener, healthier one."
Mimi Bekhechi is director of animal welfare charity PETA

The best baked pumpkin

Stuffed with nutty, fruity rice
“Oven-baked pumpkin is beautiful with spices, like in this really impressive veggie dish ”
Serves 4
Cooks In1H 30M
Difficulty Not too tricky
Vegetables, Halloween/Bonfire Night, Gluten-free, Vegetarian

Nutrition per serving
Calories 587 29%
Fat 48.3g 69%
Saturates 7.4g 37%
Protein 5.9g 13%
Carbs 32.3g 12%
Sugars 17.9g 20%
Salt 0.93g 16%
Fibre 4.9g
Of an adult's reference intake

Ingredients
1 pumpkin, about 1kg
2 cloves garlic, peeled
olive oil
1 red onion , peeled and finely chopped
1 small handful black olives, stoned and chopped
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves finely chopped
1 dried chilli
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
50 g basmati rice , washed and drained
75 g dried cranberries
50 g shelled pistachio nuts
1 tangerine , zest of
200 ml organic vegetable stock


Method
Pumpkins are so versatile, the things you can do with them are endless! Their flavour goes well with chilli, nutmeg and sage. If you’ve never cooked one before, you’re in for a real treat.
Preheat the oven to 230ºC/450ºF/gas 8. Cut the lid off the pumpkin and reserve it. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon and keep them to one side. Make the hollow where the seeds were a little bigger by scooping out some more pumpkin flesh. Finely chop this pumpkin flesh and one of the garlic cloves. Heat a frying pan over a medium heat. Pour in a splash of olive oil, then add the chopped pumpkin, chopped garlic, onion, olives, and half the rosemary. Cook gently for 10 minutes or so until the pumpkin has softened.
Meanwhile, place the whole garlic clove and the remaining rosemary in a pestle and mortar. Crumble in the dried chilli, add a good pinch of salt, pepper, nutmeg and cinnamon and bash until you have a paste. Add a little olive oil to loosen up the mixture and then rub the inside of the pumpkin with it.
Season the cooked pumpkin mixture and stir in the rice, cranberries, pistachios and tangerine zest with a pinch each of nutmeg and cinnamon. Mix thoroughly then add the vegetable stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 3 minutes (no longer or the rice will end up overcooked later).
Tear off a sheet of tin foil that’s large enough to wrap the pumpkin in a double layer and lay on top of a baking tray. Place the pumpkin on top and spoon the rice mixture into it, then place its lid back on. Rub the skin with a little olive oil, wrap it up in the foil and bake in the oven for about an hour. The pumpkin is ready when you can easily push a knife into it. Bring it to the table and open it up in front of everyone. Cut it into thick wedges and tuck in, leaving the skin. Serve with seasonal greens.

Everyday green chopped salad

With easy homemade dressing and nuts
“This just goes to show that even the simplest green salad can pack a real flavour punch ”
Serves 4
Cooks In 10 minutes
Difficulty Super easy
Vegetables, Dairy-free, Vegan, Vegetarian

Nutrition per serving
Calories 94 5%
Fat 7.9g 11%
Saturates 1.1g 6%
Protein 1.8g 4%
Carbs 2.7g 1%
Sugars 2.1g 2%
Of an adult's reference intake

Ingredients

4 scallions
½ cucumber
1 handful fresh basil leaves
½ head Boston lettuce , or small red leaf lettuce
½ heart romaine
½ cup sprouted cress or alfafa
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
½ teaspoon Dijon or English mustard
⅛ teaspoon sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
½ cup chopped toasted walnuts , or your favourite nuts



Method
Chopped salads are incredibly simple to make, you have to give them a go. If nothing else, they can offer you some chopping practice, so why not make something tasty while you’re practicing your knife skills? Anyone can make these salads, just make sure you use a good, sharp chef’s knife and your biggest chopping board – and watch your fingers!

Get yourself a big chopping board and a large sharp knife. It’s best to start by chopping the harder, crunchier veggies first, so trim and chop your scallions and slice your cucumber. Slice your basil. Bring it all into the centre of the board, and continue chopping and mixing together.
Add the lettuce leaves, and cress or alfalfa to the board. When everything is well chopped, you’ll have a big mound of salad on the board.
Make a well in the middle and drizzle in the extra virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar. Add the mustard and the salt and pepper. Sprinkle with nuts. Mix up so everything gets well coated and serve on the board or in a bowl.
Serving suggestions:
This makes a nice addition to any main dish such as Barbecued chicken, Spaghetti and meatballs or Old-school pork chops with apples.
Jamie's tips:
- What I want to show you here is that the sky’s the limit when it comes to the different ingredients you can add to a chopped salad – you can use whatever’s available.
- The only rule I would give you is to always include a couple of handfuls of crunchy lettuce to give your salad a really good texture. Try out different things, and don’t feel obliged to use the same old stuff all the time. Bell peppers, tomatoes, herb sprigs, a peeled and pitted avocado . . . you can get any or all of these into a chopped salad.
- Basil works well in this salad, but so do lots of other soft fresh herbs, such as chives, chervil, or mint.
- For a bit of extra crunch, simply toast some nuts in a warm pan, but watch them as once they start to go brown they can burn very quickly.

I’ve converted to veganism to reduce my impacts on the living world

Illustration by Nate Kitch
por George Monbiot.

"Nothing hits the planet as hard as rearing animals. Caring for it means cutting out meat, dairy and eggs.

The world can cope with 7 or even 10 billion people. But only if we stop eating meat. Livestock farming is the most potent means by which we amplify our presence on the planet. It is the amount of land an animal-based diet needs that makes it so destructive.

An analysis by the farmer and scholar Simon Fairlie suggests that Britain could easily feed itself within its own borders. But while a diet containing a moderate amount of meat, dairy and eggs would require the use of 11m hectares of land (4m of which would be arable), a vegan diet would demand a total of just 3m. Not only do humans need no pasture, but we use grains and pulses more efficiently when we eat them ourselves, rather than feed them to cows and chickens.

This would enable 15m hectares of the land now used for farming in Britain to be set aside for nature. Alternatively, on a vegan planet, Britain could feed 200 million people. Extending this thought experiment to the rest of the world, it’s not hard to see how gently we could tread if we stopped keeping animals. Rainforests, savannahs, wetlands, magnificent wildlife can live alongside us, but not alongside our current diet.

Because we have failed to understand this in terms of space, we believe we can solve the ethical problems caused by eating animals by switching from indoor production to free-range meat and eggs. Nothing could be further from the truth. Free-range farming is kinder to livestock but crueller to the rest of the living world.

When people criticise farming, they usually preface it with the word intensive. But extensive farming, almost by definition, does greater harm to the planet: more land is needed to rear the same amount of food. Keeping cattle or sheep on ranches, whether in the Amazon, the US, Australia or the hills of Britain, is even more of a planet-busting indulgence than beef feed-lots and hog cities, cruel and hideous as these are.

Over several years, as I became more aware of these inconvenient truths, I gradually dropped farmed meat from my diet. But I still consumed milk and eggs. I knew the dire environmental impacts of the crops (such as maize and soya) that dairy cows and chickens are fed. I knew about the waste, the climate change, the air pollution. But greed got the better of me. Cheese, yoghurt, butter, eggs – I loved them all.

Then something happened that broke down the wall of denial. Last September I arranged to spend a day beside the River Culm in Devon, renowned for its wildlife and beauty. However, the stretch I intended to explore had been reduced to a stinking ditch, almost lifeless except for some sewage fungus. I traced the pollution back to a dairy farm. A local man told me the disaster had been developing for months. But his efforts to persuade the Environment Agency (the government regulator) to take action had been fruitless.

I published the photos I had taken in the Guardian, and they caused a stir. Yet the Environment Agency still refused to take action. Its excuses were so preposterous that I realised this was more than simple incompetence. After publishing another article about this farce, I was contacted separately by two staff members at the agency. They told me they had been instructed to disregard all incidents of this kind. The cause, they believed, was political pressure from the government.

That did it. Why, I reasoned, should I support an industry the government refuses to regulate? Since then, I have cut almost all animal products from my diet. I’m not religious about it. If I’m at a friend’s house I might revert to vegetarianism. If I’m away from home, I will take a drop of milk in my tea. About once a fortnight I have an egg for my breakfast, perhaps once a month a fish I catch, or a herring or some anchovies (if you eat fish, take them from the bottom of the food chain). Perhaps three or four times a year, on special occasions, I will eat farmed meat: partly out of greed, partly because I don’t want to be even more of a spectre at the feast than I am already. This slight adaptation, I feel, also reduces the chances of a relapse.

I still eat roadkill when I can find it, and animals killed as agricultural pests whose bodies might otherwise be dumped. At the moment, while pigeons, deer, rabbits and squirrels are so abundant in this country and are being killed for purposes other than meat production, eating the carcasses seems to be without ecological consequence. Perhaps you could call me a pestitarian.

Even so, such meals are rare. My rough calculation suggests that 97% of my diet now consists of plants. I eat plenty of pulses, seeds and nuts and heaps of vegetables. That almost allows me to join the 500,000 people in Britain who are full vegans – but not quite. Of course, these choices also have impacts, but they are generally far lower than those of meat, dairy and eggs. Paradoxically, if you want to eat less soya, eat soya directly: eating animal products tends to mean consuming far more of this crop, albeit indirectly. Almost all the soya grown where rainforests once stood is used to feed animals. Replacing meat with soya reduces the clearance of natural vegetation, per kilogram of protein, by 96%.

After almost a year on this diet, I have dropped from 12 stone to 11. I feel better than I’ve done for years, and my craving for fat has all but disappeared. Cheese is no more appealing to me now than a lump of lard. My asthma has almost gone. There are a number of possible explanations, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it had something to do with cutting out milk. I have to think harder about what I cook, but that is no bad thing.

Meat eating is strongly associated with conventional images of masculinity, and some people appear to feel threatened by those who give up animal products. An Italian politician this week proposed jailing parents who impose a vegan diet on their children, in case it leaves them malnourished. Curiously, he failed to recommend the same sanction for rearing them on chips and sausages.

By chance, at a festival this summer, I again met the man from Devon who had tried to persuade the Environment Agency to take action on the River Culm. He told me that nothing has changed. When there’s a choice between protecting the living world and appeasing powerful lobby groups, most governments will take the second option. But we can withdraw our consent from this corruption. If you exercise that choice, I doubt you will regret it.

10 Easy Tips to Live By


"Eating healthily is all about balance. Every now and then it’s perfectly OK to have pie for dinner or a nice slice of cake at teatime – treats are a part of life – but it's also important to recognise when we're pushing things too far. Indulgent food should be enjoyed and savoured, but only occasionally – it's important to remember that the majority of our diet should be made up of balanced, nutritious everyday foods. Make healthy food a priority in your life and allow it to bring your family and friends together. Learn to love how it makes you feel, how delicious it is and remember that a healthy balanced diet and regular exercise are the keys to a healthy lifestyle.

1. COOK FROM SCRATCH
This is one of the most important life skills you can learn. It allows you to have complete control of what goes into your food.

2. EAT A BALANCED DIET
Aim to eat a balanced diet that contains each of the food groups in the correct proportions.

3. VARIETY IS KEY – EAT THE RAINBOW
Fill your diet with a wide range of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, fish, eggs, pulses, nuts, seeds, wholegrains and naturally low fat dairy foods. When it comes to fruit and veg, different colours provide your body with the different nutrients it needs to stay strong and healthy – it's not just greens that are good for you!

4. UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU'RE EATING
Make an effort to learn about the food you're eating – we all need to understand where food comes from and how it affects our bodies.

5. EAT NUTRITIOUS CALORIES
Make sure the majority of your energy intake comes from nutritious calories that also provide your body with nutrients like vitamins, minerals, protein, fibre and good fats. Avoid empty calories.

6. DON'T SKIP BREAKFAST
Breakfast kick-starts your metabolism and helps you to be alert and awake throughout the day. Make sure you always eat a nutritious breakfast. Make it wholesome and make it count.

7. READ THE SMALL PRINT
It's important to read packaging correctly. Be aware of the recommended portion sizes, and the sugar, salt and saturated fat contents. Remember that not all E-numbers are bad, but too many is often a bad sign.

8. DRINK MORE WATER
Water is an essential part of your diet. Drink plenty of water and avoid empty calories from things such as fizzy drinks, energy drinks or juices with added sugar. Eat your calories don't drink them.

9. KEEP ACTIVE
Exercise is an extremely important factor in staying healthy so try to be as active as you can.

10. SLEEP WELL
Make sure you get enough sleep – it's an essential part of being healthy and directly affects how well we are able to learn, grow and act in life. While we're asleep, our bodies have that all-important time to repair."

Vegan dim sum buns

With a mushroom filling
“Soft steamed buns stuffed with Asian-style mushrooms and hoisin sauce – people will go mad for these! ”
Serves 8
Cooks In 45 minutes
Difficulty Not too tricky
Vegetables, Dinner Party, Lighter New Year, Party food

Nutrition per serving
Calories 304 15%
Fat 8.3g 12%
Saturates 3.9g 20%
Protein 7.9g 18%
Carbs 52.4g 20%
Sugars 4.8g 5%
Salt 1.3g 22%
Fibre 3.1g
Of an adult's reference intake

Ingredients
hoisin sauce, to serve
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled
½ bunch of fresh coriander
groundnut oil
450 g mixed mushrooms , such as shitake and chestnut
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sweet chilli sauce
2 tablespoons low-salt soy sauce
4 spring onions
1 fresh red chilli
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 x 400 g tin of light coconut milk
500 g self-raising flour , or 2 filled coconut milk tins of flour, plus extra for dusting
sea salt
2 tablespoons sesame seeds

Method
To make the filling, finely slice the garlic and ginger. Pick the coriander leaves and set aside, then finely slice the stalks. Heat a splash of groundnut oil in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat, then add the garlic, ginger and coriander stalks. Fry for around 3 minutes, or until golden. Slice the mushrooms, then add to the pan for around 5 minutes, or until lightly golden brown.
Add the vinegar, chilli sauce and soy, then cook for a further 5 minutes, or until the liquid has boiled and bubbled away and the mushrooms are golden brown and starting to caramelise. Transfer to a bowl.
Trim and finely slice the spring onions, then add the white part to the bowl. Deseed and finely slice the chilli, then add half to the bowl, reserving the rest for later. Stir in the sesame oil, then set aside.
Add the coconut milk, 2 heaped tins’ worth of flour and a good pinch of salt to a food processor. Whiz to a dough, then transfer to a flour-dusted surface and roll into a thick sausage. Cut into 12 equal-sized pieces, roll into balls, then flatten into rounds, roughly ½cm thick.
Equally divide the mushroom mixture between each of the 12 dough circles (you'll need roughly 1 tablespoon of filling per circle), making sure to leave a 2cm gap around the edges. Pull and fold the sides over the filling, pinching the edges together to seal. Place upside-down (so the scruffy edges are underneath) in double-layered, lightly greased muffin cases and divide between two bamboo steamer baskets.


Place a wok over a high heat, then fill with 1 litre of boiling water and pop the steamer baskets on top. Reduce the heat to medium and steam for around 12 minutes, or until piping hot through and puffed up.
Meanwhile, toast the sesame seeds in a small frying pan over a medium heat. Once the buns are ready, sprinkle over the seeds and the reserved spring onions and chilli. Tear the coriander leaves on top, then serve with hoisin sauce for dipping.

My special vegan kofte

A twist on a Persian classic
“Sizzling hot vegan kofte, served with a delicious cashew and peanut sauce and a refreshing minty yoghurt dip ”
Serves 4
Cooks In1 hour
DifficultySuper easy
Vegetables, Dinner Party, Vegan, Vegetarian

Nutrition per serving
Calories 443 22%
Fat 26.1g 37%
Saturates 6.8g 34%
Protein 19g 42%
Carbs 34.7g 13%
Sugars 8.8g 10%
Salt 1.3g 22%
Fibre 8.1g
Of an adult's reference intake

Ingredients
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger
2 cloves of garlic
olive oil
2 courgettes
fine sea salt
1 large bunch of fresh coriander
1 x 400 g tin of chickpeas, drained
40 g fine breadcrumbs
freshly ground black pepper

For the minty yoghurt dip:
½ a cucumber
3 sprigs of fresh mint
4 tablespoons organic soya yoghurt
1 lemon

For the nutty sauce:
1 small onion
1 clove of garlic
100 g cashew nuts
140 ml light coconut milk
2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter


Method
Toast the coriander and cumin seeds in a small frying pan over a medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes, then tip into a pestle and mortar and bash to a coarse powder.
Peel and finely chop the ginger and garlic, then add to the frying pan over a medium heat with a splash of oil. Fry for 2 to 3 minutes, or until golden, then place into a food processor with the toasted spices.
Coarsely grate the courgettes, place into a colander in the sink, then sprinkle with a good pinch of fine sea salt. Squeeze the mixture together with your hands to get rid of the excess moisture, then add to the processor. Pick the coriander leaves and set aside, then add half the coriander stalks to the processor with the chickpeas, breadcrumbs and a pinch of salt and pepper. Pulse until combined, but not smooth – you want to retain a bit of texture.
Transfer to a clean work surface then, with wet hands, divide and shape the mixture into eight little fat fingers. Place onto a tray, then pop in the fridge to chill for around 20 minutes. 
Meanwhile, make the minty yoghurt dip. Halve the cucumber lengthways, scoop out and discard the watery seeds, then roughly chop. Pick and finely slice the mint leaves, then place into a bowl with the cucumber, yoghurt and a squeeze of lemon juice. Mix well.
To make the nutty sauce, peel and finely slice the onion and garlic, then finely slice the remaining coriander stalks. Place into a large frying pan over a medium heat with a splash of oil, then cook for a few minutes, or until golden. Add the cashew nuts and toast for a further 2 to 3 minutes, then transfer to a food processor. Add the coconut milk and peanut butter, then blitz until thick and smooth.
Return the large frying pan to a medium heat with a splash of oil. Once hot, add the kofte and cook for around 2 minutes, or until golden and piping hot through, turning regularly. Divide the kofte between your plates, tear over the coriander leaves, then serve with the nutty sauce and minty yoghurt dip and lemon wedges for squeezing. Delicious with pitta breads or fluffy rice.