Livestock are part of the original recycling program. Grazing animals turn unusable crops and grasses, into nutrient and protein rich foods. Other livestock turn our food waste, like left over grains from the production of ethanol, beer, vegetable oils and more – into that same great food.
That means less waste into landfills, and protected grasslands.
How do grazing livestock protect those grasslands?
Livestock play an integral role in soil health, carbon sequestration, biodiversity, nutrient run-off management, erosion control, and pollinator and wildlife habitat.
Livestock also reduce our reliance on synthetic fertilizers, since their manure can be used to replenish the nutrients in the soil.
Their feeds can also be used to improve the quality of other crops grown for human feed. Whether it be mixed grains that are grown in PEI after a potato crop, or alfalfa in Ontario after a wheat crop, or just the rugged landscape of Alberta in which parts can’t be used to grow anything but grass, livestock are great converters at things we don’t eat, into a product we do.
To suggest that the environmentally conscious option is to eat less meat is incorrect. Losing the land that produces meat would do great environmental harm in Canada.
Moreover, we do not believe the role of Canada’s Food Guide should include the development of recommendations focused on addressing environmental priorities, especially regarding food production (as opposed to food preparation). Encouraging Canadians to make food choices based on the environmental impact of food production is inappropriate and unrealistic, partly due to the lack of knowledge that so many Canadians have regarding agriculture and the environmental footprint of different foods, and the plethora of misinformation and false claims the public is exposed to through different mediums. Recommendations surrounding the environmental impacts of food production are best left to Canada’s Food Policy, where this complex issue can be appropriately assessed and researched in greater detail.
So, Health Canada – Hands Off My Plate!