A cow at a farm in Stellenbosch, South Africa

World Environmental Education Day: Eating Meat and Climate Change 

FOUR PAWS remind us how interconnected animal welfare, human health and the well-being of the environment are


Cape Town – This World Environmental Education Day – Friday 26 January, global animal welfare organisation, FOUR PAWS, wants to remind us how heavily interconnected animal welfare, human health and the well-being of the environment are. Many do not know that factory farming destroys the planet and has the potential to breed the next pandemic – which is devastating for human health. We should aim to eat fewer animals and more plant-based food, as it is beneficial for animals, humans, and the planet.

Said FOUR PAWS, “a glass of milk for breakfast, spaghetti Bolognese for lunch, a boiled egg and a couple of slices of salami for supper – a normal daily diet for many people in the world. However, it contributes to global growth in the consumption of animal products. Especially in the developing countries where the demand for meat and other animal-based products is massively on the rise."

According to Animal Production and Health Division (NSA) forecasts, the demand for meat will double by 2050.

Fiona Miles, FOUR PAWS Director in South Africa, said, “Not only do animals suffer as a result of this industry. Many people are unaware that increasing meat consumption affects the climate and the environment. Animal products are climate killers.”

Climate change is caused by the increased quantities of greenhouse gases we humans produce, such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N20), which enhance the natural greenhouse effect. These greenhouse gases are released not only by burning fossil fuels (e.g. coal, natural gas, oil) or by transportation (cars, ships, airplanes). Livestock farming and the production of animal-based products have serious effects, too.

Worldwide, 16.5 percent of total man-made greenhouse gas emissions are from animal production, of which the beef and dairy industries – due to the high demand for animal feed and the release of methane – are the biggest climate polluters in the sector.

Compared to the production of fruits and vegetables, much more energy is needed to produce meat, milk, cheese, and butter, resulting in more CO2 emissions. The increased production of nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide is mainly caused by the fertilisation of agricultural land and the production of mineral fertilisers and pesticides.

Additional effects include the deforestation of woodland and tropical forests to create pastures or areas for growing animal feed such as soya.  A huge amount of water is needed in the various stages of meat production and the production of other animal-based products (e.g. 15,000 litres of water are used to produce just one kilogramme of beef. The overfertilisation of agricultural land as well as the use of pesticides and medicines lead to the pollution of water resources. Biodiversity is lost due to tropical forest deforestation and changes in grassland areas to create agricultural land.

“Ask how you can help? FOUR PAWS urges you to follow a more compassionate diet by refining your food choices, reducing your meat, dairy and egg consumption and ultimately opting for a plant-based diet which is the most animal-friendly diet. The more we become aware of how similar farm animals are to our favoured companion animals, the more we are able to see the similarities and make better, more conscious food choices,” said Miles.


Public Relations Officer ZA

Deidre Daniels

Public Relations Officer


+27 (0)21 702 4277

+27 (0)78 675 8220

9B Bell Crescent, Westlake Business Park, 
Green Building, Cape Town, 7945

A Public Relations professional with over eight years’ experience in fostering positive relationships between organisations and media.

FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organisation for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need and protects them. Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler and friends, the organisation advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. The sustainable campaigns and projects of FOUR PAWS focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, farm animals and wild animals – such as bears, big cats and orangutans – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones. With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA and Vietnam as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in eleven countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions. www.four-paws.org.za 

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