Vegetarians International Voice for Animals

'Eat Green' say campaigners as Defra study shows UK species still in decline

Release date: 
Wednesday, April 8, 2009

PRESSURE is being put on the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to call for a drastic cut in meat consumption after it reported a continuing decline in biodiversity in the UK this week. Vegetarian environmental campaigners Viva! say the only way Government targets to "significantly reduce the rate of species loss by 2010" will be met, is by halting the destruction of wildlife habitats through expanding farmland used for meat and dairy production. Statistics from Defra's Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) are released as Viva! launches a new campaign Eat Green aimed at helping people meat reduce or become vegetarian or vegan to cut their carbon footprint " and protect the world's biodiversity. Environment campaigner Zephie Begolo, says: "Defra needs to take urgent action to acknowledge that the meat and dairy industry is at the heart of environmental destruction both at home and abroad, decimating essential wildlife habitats and hundreds of animal and plant species. 'If the Government is serious about significantly reducing the rate of species loss, as well as reducing this country's global warming emissions, moving towards a meat-free diet must be at the top of their agenda.' According to the RSPB, modern farming techniques that produce higher crop yields have been applied too often at the expense of food and shelter for wildlife. Defra's findings show that farmland birds and plant species in woodland and grassland, for example, have continued to decline since 2000. By 2000, 73 per cent of the world's biodiversity was lost. Scientists predict a further 11 per cent could be lost by 2050 according to the report Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity. The meat industry is driving this decimation. The UK imported over 780,000 tonnes of soya in 2008, with nearly 80 per cent of this being imported from Brazil alone. The vast majority of this is then converted into feed for animals reared for meat. The UK now has under five per cent of primary forest when it used to be 80 per cent forested. This has led to a biodiversity crisis in the UK. Viva! have launched two new websites to raise awareness of the issues: www.eatgreen.org.uk including four steps to eating green to help the environment; plus www.savetheirworld.org.uk focusing on how going veggie can help protect biodiversity across the world. 'Meat and dairy reduction is now a global necessity. Cutting out meat means slashing your carbon footprint and helping biodiversity and is more effective than any eco action an individual, or Government can take,' Ms Begolo added. ENDS For more information on this media release, contact Zephie by emailing zephie@viva.org.uk or press officer Helen Rossiter by emailing press@viva.org.uk or by calling 0117 944 1000. Notes to Editors Action from Viva! comes a week after the group demonstrated outside Bristol City Council headquarters against plans to introduce a herd of cattle to graze outside the city, to be raised for meat for local school children (as reported in The Telegraph and other national news sources). http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/foodanddrinknews/5099336/Council... Details of the Defra's Biodiversity Action Plan can be viewed here http://www.defra.gov.uk/news/2009/090403a.htm Globally, 70 per cent of farmland is used to grow crops to feed animals. Soya and deforestation In the past 15 years, soya production in Latin America has more than doubled, decimating huge areas of wildlife habitat and having far-reaching effects on global environment. The UK imported over 780,000 tonnes of soya in 2008, with nearly 80 per cent of this being imported from Brazil alone. Of the soya meal imported into the EU it is estimated that: ' 41 per cent is used for pig feed ' 32 per cent is used for broiler and other types of meat poultry ' Ten per cent is used for layer poultry ' 13 per cent is used in cattle feed ' Visit http://savetheirworld.org.uk/soya for more information