What’s Really Causing the UK Heatwave

Posted by on June 25, 2020 | Permalink

This week, England had its hottest day of the year so far. The Met Office issued a level two heat alert for most of the country, and temperatures in some areas reached a blistering 32 degrees.

The unprecedented global COVID-19 outbreak has led to a decrease in human activity, and carbon dioxide emissions fell by 17% worldwide by early April, but these scorching temperatures show the long-term consequences of the climate crisis – whether we’re in lockdown or not.

The crisis will continue devastating the planet unless we make meaningful changes. The fishing, meat, dairy, and egg industries – which are relentlessly cruel to animals – are also a nightmare for the environment.

Here’s why going vegan is essential to protecting the environment, tackling the climate crisis, and securing a better future for this planet:

Eating Meat Fuels the Climate Crisis

Animal agriculture is responsible for a greater proportion of greenhouse-gas emissions than all forms of transportation combined, according to the United Nations.

Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals

The UN also states that raising animals for food is “one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global”. The situation is so dire that the UN is calling for urgent and unprecedented changes now, including to our diet, to limit the catastrophic damage caused by climate change.

Researchers at the University of Oxford found that going vegan could reduce our carbon footprint from food by up to 73%, resulting in a significant drop in greenhouse-gas emissions.

The study’s lead author, Joseph Poore, states the following:

“A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth …. It is far bigger than cutting down on your flights or buying an electric car.”

Scientists agree that all plant-based foods have a smaller carbon footprint than their animal-derived equivalents, so the easiest way to slow down climate change immediately is to go vegan.

Life on Earth

Exploiting animals for their milk, flesh, and eggs is pushing our natural environment and life on Earth to its limits. WWF’s Living Planet Report 2018 states that 60% of wild-animal populations have been lost since the 1970s.

It identified habitat loss as the main cause of extinction. In the UK, 26% of mammal species are at risk of extinction and 41% of bird species have declined, while almost half of the farmland is used for grazing animals like sheep and cows, at the expense of nature.

Despite this crisis, humans are still razing some of the most species-rich areas on Earth – including rainforests in South America – in order to graze cows or grow soya that is fed to cows, chickens, sheep, and pigs. One-third of the Earth’s land surface is used for animal agriculture, but if we all stopped eating meat and dairy, global farmland use could be reduced by 75%.

Water Footprint

As if violence towards animals and environmental destruction weren’t enough, animal agriculture also has a shocking water footprint. Meat-eaters are responsible, on average, for the use of 15,000 litres of water a day.

While it takes about 1,790 litres of water to grow 1 kilogram of wheat, you’d need to use more than five times more water for 1 kilogram of beef. It takes the equivalent of 50 bathtubs full of water to produce just one steak.

It’s not only meat production that wastes water, either. It takes 72% more water to produce a litre of cows’ milk than it does to produce the same amount of soya milk.

Using this much water unnecessarily at such an alarming rate harms the planet and us, but going vegan drastically changes the numbers. By eating plant-based, we reduce our water footprint by nearly 60%.


Fact Box

  • Globally, the 13 biggest dairy companies combined are responsible for the same amount of greenhouse-gas emissions as the entirety of the UK.
  • The carbon footprint of bacon is 11 times larger than that of THIS Isn’t Bacon (a popular variety of vegan bacon).
  • The carbon footprint of beef from UK-raised cows is 38 times larger than that of avocados from South America. The carbon footprint of beef is 48 times larger than that of beetroot.
  • The carbon footprint of lamb is 23 times larger than that of tofu.
  • The carbon footprint of cheese is eight times larger than that of chickpeas.
  • Growing plant-based protein requires 20 times less land – and vegetables 50 times less land – than rearing cows for the same serving size of beef.

What You Can Do for Animals and the Planet

We can decry the devastation wreaked by the climate crisis all day long, but as long as we have meat in our mouths, we might as well whistle into the wind.

Not eating meat, fish, eggs, or dairy is the most impactful way for each person to take direct action to protect our planet – and to reject the daily cruelty that occurs at abattoirs and on factory farms in the UK and elsewhere. 

For help getting started, order a free vegan starter kit full of tips and advice for every part of your journey.