Professor Tim Lang, the UK’s leading expert on food policy, says we need to maximise our food self-sufficiency, not out of nationalism, but so we are in a position to contribute globally. Now, there’s a concept; one that has been buried under post-war years of plenty, greed and, frankly, selfishness. Our preoccupation with “me and mine” has drowned out the voices of “them and theirs”. We donate to charities and get outraged at abuses of power and the plight of those less fortunate than ourselves – just as long as it doesn’t demand any fundamental change or sacrifice on our part.
Globally, industrial livestock agriculture has left a damaging imprint. From rain forest destruction to desertification, from polluted air and water to degraded land, we have destroyed our home, our fellow inhabitants, and squandered precious resources.
If everyone on the planet consumed as much as the average UK citizen, we would need 2.4 earths to sustain them.
Eighty-two percent of the world’s hungry children live in countries where grains and legumes are grown and exported to the west to feed livestock. Soymeal and maize are two of our biggest imports destined mostly for the poultry, pig and fishing industries.
Approximately half of the UK’s food chain emissions arise outside the UK which is neither fair nor sustainable.
Seventy-seven percent of cereal grains globally (including 50% of Scottish cereals) are fed to animals in the meat, dairy and fishing industries; meanwhile, somewhere in the world, a child dies from hunger every 10 seconds.
We are all interconnected. The decisions we make here in Scotland have repercussions around the globe. Changing what we produce and consume can literally be a matter of life-or-death.
To summarise what we know:
- We do not need animal products to live strong and healthy lives.
- If we stop farming animals, we have sufficient arable land in the UK to grow more than enough food to supply the calorific, protein and nutrient needs of every person in the UK.
- New advances in biotechnology allow us to create high quality protein which will be superior to animal proteins in every way – “more nutritious, healthier, better tasting, and more convenient, with almost unimaginable variety”. As early as 2030, it is predicted that these proteins will be five times cheaper than existing animal proteins.
- The technology known as precision fermentation would mean that ‘anywhere we can brew beer, we can make food’ – independent of climate, geography and topography. Which means that cheap, high quality, nutritious food would be available to everyone – which will have a huge positive impact on world hunger, nutrition and health.
Shifting to stock-free farming invites huge wins for our planet, ourselves, and the many species we share it with. It’s time for us all to move from a “me-culture” to a “we-culture” in which we embrace the big picture and each play our part in repairing and restoring our world so that all species who depend on it – including ourselves – can flourish in harmony and in peace.