After three months of being an intern with LiveWell for LIFE, I’m two-days away from finishing my internship – an internship that has certainly changed the way I see food.
Before my internship, my interest in and knowledge about the food industry centred on the animal welfare issues in factory farms. I owe the discovery of these issues to Michael Pollan’s book The Omnivore’s Dilemma and watching the documentary Food Inc. I joined the Meatless Monday movement – a movement which educates people about the environmental, health and animal welfare benefits of going meat-free – whilst I lived in the US.
But it is through my internship with LiveWell that I learned there are other issues consumers need to know and care about – which are as important as the animal welfare issues in industrial farms.
Let me share a few important facts about Europe’s food production and consumption:
- in Europe, food production accounts for 29% of consumption related greenhouse gas emissions, and meat production is one of the main contributors to this percentile;
- between 1990 and 2008, the European consumption of crops for animal feed, and pastures for grazing, led to the loss of approximately 5.2 million hectares of forest; and
- thirty percent of food produced is wasted, i.e. it never gets eaten or even makes it to someone’s fridge. And yet, there are people in Europe who are undernourished or overweight.
The food system as we know it is imbalanced and broken. We are literally eating our planet and, in future years, we may not have enough land to produce food for everyone living on it. It’s a no-brainer that I changed the way I buy and see food. My decision-making has broaden and I’m no longer just considering the animal welfare aspects of food, I’m eating a more sustainable diet – a diet that is good for me, and for the planet. LiveWell’s key messages are my guide to grocery-shopping; I have reduced my meat consumption to once or twice a week and have started growing my own veggies.
The sustainable diet debate is starting to pick up around Europe, and I’m glad that I was able to experience it and learn about it from a project that is leading this debate across the EU. There is still more work that needs to be done, but LiveWell for LIFE is leading the EU on the right path.
LiveWell for LIFE intern