‘In a gentle way you can shake the world’ – Mahatma Gandhi
I love that quote. We might only be one person but the things we do can have an impact on the entire planet. We might feel as if anything we do wouldn’t make a difference, but it does, one tiny step at a time. So whether it’s reducing the amount of plastic we use, lobbying the decision makers or simply sharing your smile with a stranger, if you want to help make the world a better place, it is in your power. Our tiny tweaks can help change the world!
The environment and my personal impact on it is something I have been thinking about a lot recently.
One thing which is at the forefront of everyones minds right now is global warming. We only have to look at the news to see extremes of weather in every corner of the planet causing devastation and destruction – floods, landslides, heatwaves, droughts and wildfires. These extremes in weather are becoming increasingly common and experts now say that we have ten years to avoid total climate catastrophe.
Why are cows being blamed?
Did you know that the methane gas produced by livestock (mainly cows) is the number one agricultural source of greenhouse gasses worldwide? Cows produce methane via the microbes in their stomach as they digest their food. It is largely produced when a cow burps and, to a much lesser extent, when they fart. This methane gas contributes approximately 18% of global greenhouse emissions which is more than the entire transport sector (cars, planes, trains, etc). The biggest cause of global warming though is the burning of fossil fuels such as gas, oil and coal which, when burnt, release carbon dioxide into the air.
So would not consuming dairy produce help?
One thing we can all do to help in a tiny way is to reduce the amount of dairy products we consume. For those wondering what happens to the cows and the dairy farmers if people stop drinking their milk, you might find this from PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) of interest:
‘At least 5 million cows raised for milk in the United States live on factory farms under conditions that cause them tremendous suffering. They do not graze contentedly in fields; they live in cramped, concrete-floored milking pens where they are milked by machines that often cause cuts and injuries that would not occur if people did the milking’.
In the UK, a high proportion of farm animals are kept in factory farms. These contain hundreds, sometimes thousands, of cows who are unlikely to ever graze on fresh grass or feel sunlight on their bodies. They are then milked up to 3 times a day for around 5 years when they are then killed.
So the important thing is to support the real farmers, the ones who keep their cows in fields and who look after their animals properly. By doing this, we are protecting animals, helping ourselves and reducing our impact on the planet. The only way to be 100% sure that you are consuming milk from a cow who is able to graze in a field is to buy organic. Organic dairy products cost a bit more but they are readily available and, if you do want to eat beef and consume dairy products, it’s definitely worthwhile. Organic farmers keep their livestock outside, grazing on grass and are are only given antibiotics if they are ill. Organic cows are fed non-GM foods and no artificial fertilisers or pesticides are used. Free range is a good option too as this guarantees that the cow is free to graze on grass in the open air for a certain number of days per year.
A cow has a natural lifespan of around 20 years but intensive dairy farming often results in them being culled at around 4 or 5 years old. On top of the welfare benefits to the cows themselves, organic milk is better for us too compared to non-organic dairy milk. It has much higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids which help to maintain a healthy heart and more vitamin E and beta-carotene which help the immune system.
Living dairy free
I actually stopped consuming dairy completely ten years ago, not because of any environmental concern (I don’t think I was so aware in those days) but because I had health issues which I wanted to resolve. Nothing really serious but enough to make me want to find a solution. I’d always suspected that I had a food intolerance of some kind, so I wasn’t particularly surprised to find that dairy was the problem. To begin with I just cut down but I soon realised that even a tiny bit of dairy was causing problems.
If you have never had to find dairy free products, you might well be amazed to know how difficult it can be! It’s not just the obvious such as ice cream, yoghurts or cheese, but also the unexpected like tinned soup, crisps and ready meals. It can take a very long time to do a weekly shop when you have to read all the labels!
Over the last couple of years though, it is has become so much easier, largely due to the popularity of vegan and plant based foods which, by their nature, don’t contain any dairy.
The tiny tweak
For this week’s tiny tweak, I’m going to set you a challenge! If you currently drink dairy milk, check where it comes from. Many of our supermarkets support local farmers so do some research and make sure you know where the milk you buy is coming from. Or maybe you could try replacing dairy milk with something else? There are so many alternative milks available including almond, rice, oat, coconut and soya. For those of us who already drink an alternative milk, how about trying a different one?
Although I personally don’t consume dairy, I do buy it for others in my household so, from now on, it’s going to be organic milk. For me, I’m trying some of the alternatives rather than always having soya milk.
If you’ve enjoyed this post, give it a like and let me know in the comments. Have you changed anything as a result of your concerns about global warming? What are you most worried about? Do you fear that future generations will blame us for not looking after the planet? Maybe you think that nothing you do will make a difference? I’d love to know your thoughts!
Until next time xx