The food choices we make today are steps to building a resilient, climate-friendly food system. Tensions exist between the calls for an increase in plant-based diets and choosing climate-friendly meat options. While livestock farming and meat consumption are central to the climate debate, there are several ways to eat a balanced meat-plant-based diet. It is important to acknowledge how livestock contributes to climate change, however, cattle and other livestock are an integral part of the Earth’s diverse ecosystems. They play a key role in the sustainability of a farm because well-managed livestock sequesters more carbon in the soil, increases biodiversity, regenerates land, and builds healthier soil for the future.
Getting to know your meat suppliers and their farming practices will allow consumers to make more informed, climate-smart choices. Support farmers who are adopting strategies to lessen their environmental impact. Visit a local farmer’s market for an opportunity to get to know your farmers and ask questions.
Tristan Banwell from Spray Creek Ranch, stresses the importance of supporting local producers. He says, “We could not do what we are doing without customers. It is the strong, unwavering support of the customers who are purchasing food from us that enables us to improve this land and to implement regenerative practices and to take risks.”
Farmers who produce climate-friendly meat adopt a regenerative farming approach to raising livestock. Regenerative livestock farming means that animals restore land in the farming process, rather than degrading it. BC’s regenerative livestock farmers sell their meat at a variety of locations. Consumers can find climate-friendly meat at farmer’s markets, online, through community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs, grocery stores, and delivery services like Meatme. There is no guarantee that locally raised meat is climate-friendly. It is important to ask questions about how meat is produced. Ask your local farmer or meat supplier about how their animals impact the land and what is being done on the farm to mitigate climate change.
Reducing the amount of meat you eat not only lowers your planetary impact, but is also a healthy dietary choice, according to the Canada Food Guide. It says, “You don’t need to eat large amounts of protein foods to meet your nutritional needs” and offers several plant-based options. David Semmelink, farmer at Lentelus Farms, says, “Eating quality meat, it’s enjoyable, you get a lot more out of it, it’s nutrient-dense, and packed full of good things. It’s about knowing where your meat comes from, savouring every bite and thinking about how it was raised.”
There are several principles that regenerative livestock farmers follow, all of which contribute to mitigating climate change. Learn more about these practices by reading our Climate and Food Story Series: Learning about Climate Friendly Meat. We will introduce you to climate-friendly meat producers and invite you to learn about their farming methods and the positive impacts they are making towards climate solutions.