For Meat Free Monday we are looking into the water footprint of the products that we consume. Studies suggest that having a meat free day a week can help contribute towards a reduction in water, co2 and improve your health. Many people don’t realise the ‘hidden’ water in food and products. This is the water footprint of a product.
What exactly is a water footprint?
Everything we use, wear, buy, sell and eat takes water to make.
The water footprint measures the amount of water used to produce each of the goods and services we use. It can be measured for a single process, such as growing rice, for a product, such as a pair of jeans, for the fuel we put in our car, or for an entire multi-national company. The water footprint can also tell us how much water is being consumed by a particular country – or globally – in a specific river basin or from an aquifer.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the livestock sector is “one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global”.
OECD reported around 70 % of freshwater withdrawal was used by agriculture in the world. The livestock sector is currently using about 20 % of freshwater for feed production.
15,415 litres of water are required to produce 1 kg of beef and 5,988 litres to produce 1 kg of pork.
Only 322 litres of water are required to grow 1 kg of vegetables or 650 litres of water per 1 kg of wheat.
For every litre of milk produced, a cow needs to drink at least 3 litres of water. For high performing cows, the water requirement corresponds to 150 litres of water per day.
To stay healthy
The World Cancer Research Fund recommends we “choose mostly plant foods, limit red meat and avoid processed meat”.
In 2010, a study carried out by Oxford University’s department of public health found that eating meat no more than three times a week could prevent 31,000 deaths from heart disease, 9,000 deaths from cancer and 5,000 deaths from stroke, as well as save the NHS £1.2 billion in costs each year.
Former chief scientific officer Sir Liam Donaldson has said that reducing the UK’s consumption of animal products by 30 per cent by 2030 would prevent 18,000 premature deaths every year.
To save money
According to Office for National Statistics figures for 2014, the average UK family spends £15.80 a week on meat and fish, with £4.20 and £3.50 being spent on fresh vegetables and fresh fruit respectively.
The cost of meat has risen 10 per cent since 2007, yet most of the staples of a meat-free diet are comparatively cheaper: plant proteins such as dried beans or lentils typically cost less than the equivalent amount of animal protein.
‘Meat Free Monday’ and the Meat Free Monday logo are registered trademarks and their use here is not deemed to indicate any affiliation or endorsement of any third party or their products, services or opinions by the Meat Free Monday campaign.
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