During Meat Free Week (23-29 March 2015), World Land Trust (WLT) is urging supporters to find out more about the environmental impact of cheap meat production.
WLT is supporting Meat Free Week because the international meat industry is the major force driving deforestation in many parts of the world.
In the Gran Chaco region of South America, for example, an area of forest measuring 89,833 acres (36,355 hectares) was cleared for agriculture and other uses in just one month (January 2015). This is equivalent to an area more than three times that of the city of Asunción and nearly twice the size of the city of Buenos Aires.
The Gran Chaco spans parts of Argentina, Bolivia and Paraguay. According to recent satellite information, Paraguay accounted for the largest share of the 36,355 hectares of woodlands that was cleared in January (52 per cent of the total deforested area), followed by Argentina (34 per cent) and Bolivia (14 per cent).
In the Paraguayan Gran Chaco, the average daily rate of deforestation was 1,500 acres (607 hectares) in January, compared with 988 acres (400 hectares) for Argentina, and 410 acres (166 hectares) for Bolivia.
“It is a disaster such as deforestation in the Chaco that demonstrates why the demand for cheap meat is so devastating,” said WLT Chief Executive John Burton. “We urge everyone not only to sign up to Meat Free Week, but also to seriously consider the issues that are driving deforestation in South America.”
Jamie Oliver supports Meat Free Week
Meat Free Week is supported by Jamie Oliver and other famous chefs and celebrities.
Jamie said: “I’m a passionate meat lover, but I fully support Meat Free Week: it’s a wonderful excuse to focus on the incredible bounty, flavours and colours of veggies. There’s no question – from what world experts are telling us – that having more of a plant-based diet, and eating less meat, is the key to a longer, healthier life, and super good for the planet too.”
WLT staff have their own Meat Free Week fundraising team, and have already raised more than £400. Other WLT supporters have registered as individual fundraisers, among them WLT Council member Mark Avery, formerly Conservation Director for the RSPB.
WLT is one of three charities linked to Meat Free Week. The other charities are Beating Bowel Cancer and Compassion in World Farming.