This article looks into meat and sustainability. This is the first in a multi part series looking into meat consumption and how sustainable this is.

Meat the truth.jpg

I was recently reading the book Meat the Truth, which is a compilation of essays by various authors and is edited by Niko Koffeman. This is an excellent book, with many interesting perspectives on meat consumption and sustainability. I learned a lot from reading this book and I would encourage anyone who is interested in this topic to buy the book and read it for themselves.

There is also a documentary that goes alongside the book, that is also interesting and well worth watching.

I was extremely pleased to see the news last week that the IPCC’s August report Climate Change and Land brought up the impact that meat consumption had on driving climate change. With the corollary being that more people enjoying plant-based lifestyles would reduce the food sectors impact on climate change.

Global meat consumption will double in the next 50 years

This 4-part series looking into meat and sustainability will be broken down into a number of themes. This week’s article will look into the FAO prediction that meat consumption will double in 50 years. This is a truly stunning prediction that is worthy of further investigation.

One of my favourite chapters in Meat the Truth was chapter 2 by Kirsten Oleson titled, The Hidden Environmental Costs of Meat Trade. In it she delivers the following stunning critique:

All phases of livestock production result in significant environmental impacts, whose costs are rarely factored into the market price of the products sold.”

Chapter 3 was also very interesting; it was by Danielle Nierenberg and it was titled Impact of Growth in Factory Farming in Developing World. She highlights the following:

The strongest rise in farm animal production has been in the developing world.

Much of the current demand for meat, egg, and dairy products is being met by industrial animal operations that are spreading across the developing world.

Mark Bittman also contributed to the debate with his offering on Overconsumption for chapter 8. Of the FAO prediction that meat production will double by 2050, he had the following to say:

The truth is that to meet these numbers, the world needs factory farms. There is no other method that can produce these quantities of meat, eggs, and dairy. It follows then, that the only way to reduce fact0ry farming is to demand less meat.”

What you need to know

This article looked into meat and sustainability. It is the first part of a multi part series looking into this topic and is based around the conclusions of the book Meat the Truth.

Meat consumption and climate change has been in the news again recently, and rightly so. It is therefore important that this topic is explored to its fullest extent.

This particular article explored the FAO prediction that global meat consumption will double in the next 50 years and what that means.

It unquestionably means more factory farming; it means more environmental impacts and it means the spreading of a misguided western diet to billions of people in the developing world.

This is something which needs to be brought to the public’s attention and the benefits of alternatives more heavily promoted.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, or reach out to me on social media. What do you think of the relation between meat and sustainability?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby


This article is based on a recent trip that I took to Honest Burger to sample the Beyond Meat plant-based burger.


Promoting plant rich diets came in as the fourth most effective solution to slow down and reverse climate change in Paul Hawken’s 2017 work Drawdown. If you would like to read my review of this book, please click on the link below.


Promoting plant rich diets, is therefore something which is integral to a successful transition towards sustainability.

Having enough protein, is crucial to sustaining a healthy diet. I think it is a moot point that ample protein can be obtained from vegan sources such as vegetables, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds. People clearly like to eat things that look like meat, hence the success of the Quorn range of products.

At the time, these were great products that vastly enhanced the range of eating opportunities for those following vegan and vegetarian lifestyles. But they were often viewed with ridicule by those who follow more carnivorous lifestyles. This meant that they were unable to break into the mainstream, as they neither looked nor tasted like the meat options that they were intended to replicate.

This is the problem that Beyond Meat was created to solve. If you can use technology to create meat substitutes that look and taste more realistic you have a much bigger chance of becoming a mainstream option enjoyed by large sections of the population, rather than the preserve of those following vegan and vegetarian lifestyles.

Burger whole

To begin with, when the burger was dropped off, my first impression was that it was highly realistic. I have eaten many veggie burgers in my life and this was by quite some considerable distance the most realistic looking burger.

burger half eaten

The next most important consideration is the taste test and, on this front, the Beyond Burger performed exceptionally well. I am unable to provide commentary on if this is realistic to a meat-based burger, but I was dining with my brother who enjoys such products and he confirmed that it was highly realistic. In comparison to other vegan and vegetarian burgers that I have ever tried, it was probably the best that I have ever sampled.

The amount of greenhouse gasses that are released by different food options varies dramatically. As you can see from the chart below, the impact of Beef is enormous, which is worrying as it is a dish associated with status.


There is therefore a big opportunity for companies such as Beyond Meat to come in with a technological solution to temper the demand for meat, by developing realistic meat substitutes.

These companies are still in their infancy so it is too early to tell whether these substitutes can break into the mainstream. But based on my first experience of the Beyond Burger, where I left exceptionally satisfied, I think there is definitely scope for these options to become a lot more popular in the future.

What you need to know

This was an article about my recent trip to honest burger to sample the Beyond Meat plant-based burger.

Going in with high expectations, I was completely blown away by the quality and the taste of this burger.

Whether you are a lifelong vegetarian or just someone who likes to try new things I definitely recommend that you make the effort to try this burger.

With beef contributing to large quantities of greenhouse gasses and with billions more people this century expecting to have meat as part of their diet, hopefully these types of meat substitutes can continue to increase in quality, so that people have a sustainable and ethical source of protein to choose from.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below or reach out to me on social media. Do you think these meat substitutes can become mainstream?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby


This article looks into a decision which affects many people who are passionate about sustainability and who are thinking about a holiday. The decision of whether to go or not to go affects us all.

Victoria falls

In my previous article about sustainable lifestyles I talked in detail about the key ingredients of a sustainable holiday. You can find a link to this article below.


I received a lot of positive feedback to that article, so I am building on that work with my thoughts on how to resolve a to go or not to go decision about holidaying.

Tourism is big business. It is big for jobs but it can also be big for the environmental and social consequences of this choice.

Some of the statistics are eye watering. I picked out the ones listed below from an article in The Conservation.

  • Global international visitor arrivals could reach 1.6 billion by 2020
  • Tourism contributes to 5% of global greenhouse gas emissions
  • Between 50-98% of the impact is associated with the travel component (planes and cars)

What I want the overall message of this article to be is the following. It is important for people to go on holiday to visit wild areas. These funds help to pay for environmental conservation, cultural exchange and economic development in some of the world’s poorest areas. It is important when you visit these places that you pay a decent amount for your experience. Put money into the hands of local people and businesses and buy carbon offsets to cover the emissions of your plane journey.

Without tourism and without funds flowing into these places, many plant and animal species could be lost.

There is no doubt that the worst vulgarities of mass tourism contribute little to either the tourist or to the host country. There is much work to be done to turn this around.

But through sustainability tourism can become a life giving and life sustaining industry. It can protect and enhance biodiversity which is under threat, it can create jobs in remote areas where few jobs exist and it can lead to the raising of funds to help pay for essential local services such as schools and hospitals. Sustainable tourism is a force for good.

Let’s now look at a few examples of this in action.

In terms of gorilla conservation, the International Gorilla Conservation Programme in Rwanda has been enormously successful. This programme works on the basis that it needed to make the gorillas worth more alive than dead. This programme has helped to protect this endangered wildlife species as well as providing enormous value to the tourists who pay handsomely for the opportunity to see the gorillas. The funds have also helped to pay for local social and economic development as well as paying for a wildlife conservation centre.

In terms of national conservation, Namibia has been a leader in this regard. Namibia’s park security guards have done excellently at protecting the wildlife from poachers. Without tourism, there would not be funds to pay for this. Namibia is now a global success story for its anti-poaching activities. Though the protection efforts in these parks are intensely local, the ramifications for securing biodiversity are profoundly global.

Costa Rica is another example of sustainable tourism. Tourism supports over 140,000 jobs and produces 8.4% of the gross domestic product in this country. In order to protect their natural inheritance, the country has 25% of its territory classified under some category of conservation management. These protected areas welcome hundreds of thousands of tourists, who generate millions of dollars in gate admission fees and payment of services to local operators. Tourism when well thought out can be sustainable.

What you need to know

This article looked into the decision of whether to go on holiday or not, which affects many people who care about sustainability.

The focus was primarily on wildlife holidays for which a flight from a developed country would be needed and so significant carbon emissions would be incurred. In this instance, buying carbon offsets to cover the emissions of your plane journey can dramatically increase the sustainability of your holiday.

The key takeaway is that it is important for people to go on holiday to visit these areas. We looked at examples from Rwanda, Namibia and Costa Rica of how tourism provides vital funds and incentives for conservation that would not otherwise exist.

Overall, through sustainability, the face of tourism can be changed from a destructive process focussed on short term profits, to a life giving process that is focussed on the long term protection of animals and plant life.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below. What do you think of tourism and its journey towards sustainability?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

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This article looks into the key ingredients of what makes a holiday a sustainable holiday. What should you definitely attempt to do and what should you avoid?

mass tourism

Sustainability is often accused of being big and complex, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Hopefully this article makes the big and complex small and easy to understand. Everyone enjoys a holiday and through a few simple steps it is easy to design a holiday that takes less from your host country socially, economically and environmentally.

1.     Environment

Sustainability isn’t only about the environment but it is where this article will begin. There are three things to watch out for here.

  • Energy

In terms of energy, you want to be mindful of what is used to transport you from where you are to where your holiday is based. Flying is an activity which is associated with high levels of greenhouse gas emissions. There is a trend for more and more passengers to take at least one flight every year. This is not sustainable.

I found this IATA article on air passenger numbers truly astonishing. Please read it via the link below.

2036 Forecast Reveals Air Passengers Will Nearly Double to 7.8 Billion

Even with doubtless improvements in fuel efficiency, aeroplanes create more issues than just carbon emissions. They are responsible for releasing nitrogen oxides, which deplete the ozone layer and water vapour from high flying aircraft contributes to the greenhouse effect. Overall, air travel is a difficult to make compatible with the demands of sustainable development.

So often we travel to far off lands, but fail to appreciate wonders closer to home. If you take a holiday closer to where you live and avoid flying that is definitely a key ingredient of a sustainable holiday. A steel wheel on a steel rail is a highly efficient form of propulsion. Holidays by train can be enormously fun and you get to see a great deal whilst you are moving. Bike holidays are another ultra-sustainable choice and can be combined with railways to let you explore further afield.

Overall, prudent use of energy resources is the hallmark of a sustainable holiday. I am not saying that you should never fly, for some faraway destinations it is the only viable option. But making a conscious decision not to fly and to holiday closer to home is a far more sustainable option.

There will also come a point in the not too distant future when developing countries become increasingly if not fully developed. When this happens and air travel comes within reach of these enormous population centres, the pressures on our skies will become even greater than they already are.

  • Water

Water is another key element of the sustainability equation that tourism affects. Prudent use of this precious resource will determine whether your holiday is sustainable or not.

In developed countries water is not considered to be a precious or scarce resource, but in developing countries this is not the case. As more and more people holiday in developing countries, this can place enormous pressures on these countries water systems.

Water is needed for swimming pools, water parks and for the showering and toilet facilities used by the tourists from developed countries. These tourists will have a daily water use many multiples bigger than that of the local people, which leads to bigger pressures building up quicker.

Another insidious impact on water resources caused by tourism comes by the way of dietary choices. Again, meat is considered a staple item in developed countries but in developing countries more often than not it is considered a luxury, particularly beef.

A great resource in this regard is the Water Footprint Network, which hosts information on different items and their water footprint. The average water footprint per calorie for beef is twenty times larger than for cereals and starchy roots. You can find a link to the Water Footprint Network article below.

Water footprint of crop and animal products: a comparison

What this means is, is that developing countries, keen to please international visitors, alter from their traditional cuisine and aim to impress visitors with meat options that would not otherwise be there. But the raising and eventual slaughter of this meat has significant consequences for water levels in these countries and for greenhouse gas emissions globally.

Be smart and aim to eat local cuisine when you are on holiday. If you can, stick to vegan and vegetarian dishes that is even better.

Overall, be conscious of your water consumption when on holiday and look out for hidden water which lies behind products and services that you consume if you want to make your holiday more sustainable.

  • Waste

When you are on holiday, be conscious that you are a guest in another country. Littering and leaving litter behind is a problem, but it is especially problematic when you do it in a country that is not your own. In developing countries with stretched budgets and unmet needs, they can ill afford to clean up after careless visitors.

People are often surprised at the lack of bins and recycling facilities in developing countries. You may have to keep hold of your rubbish for a little longer to put it in its right place, but the effort will be worth it. If your hotel or accommodation manager doesn’t have any recycling facilities, then point out to them why they should. If no one complains, nothing will change.

Try and place less pressure on local waste management facilities by eating in and taking your time. You don’t always have to get everything to takeaway.

Overall, with just a little bit of thought and effort the sustainability of your holiday can be greatly improved as far as waste management is concerned.

2.   Social

Sustainable tourism is also about the social situation that you leave your host country in. When you visit other countries, make the effort to learn about the cultures there and visit their monuments and sites, many of which could be ancient. Try and learn things and take your findings back to your country with you. Make sure that you only take memories and don’t remove any parts of monuments. If millions of people did this, then pretty soon there will be no monument to visit.

This is the toughest one for me and it regards buying gifts from or handing money to child labourers. My position on this is that you should not engage in these activities. These kids should be in school and not walking up and down beaches during the day and into restaurants and bars at night looking for money. If you give them money or buy things from them, you simply encourage their parents to send them out the next day. It may be tough but you are not helping the situation, you are simply perpetuating an endless cycle of low skill, low wage misery.

Just talking to locals and making conversation can do a great deal to help. Some of these people will be trying to sell you products or services, but some will be genuinely interested in you, and in return you should show genuine interest in their life and their situation. Try and leave them in a better place than when you found them.

Overall, be mindful of social problems and different cultures when you are on holiday to make your trip a sustainable trip.

3.   Economic

Sustainable development is as much about economics as it is about society and the environment.

Tourism and especially mass tourism poses a number of challenges for sustainability. One of the worst features of this type of tourism is leakage. This refers to the process by which out of every dollar earned in tourism, a large percentage leaves the country. This can be as high as 80% in some cases. This occurs as a result of package holidays sold in developed countries and as a result of large resorts being part of a consortium with owners based in developed countries. It also occurs as a result of tourists who visit other countries but demand goods that are made abroad or shop in restaurants with foreign ownership.

When you travel, try to avoid packaged tours and large resorts. If you can, try as as hard as possible to put money into the hands of local people and local communities who need it most.  If you do that, your holiday will be far more sustainable.

What you need to know

This article looked into the key ingredients of what makes a holiday a sustainable holiday.

In terms of environmental consequences, you should try to fly less and travel by train or by bike. We are what we eat and you should attempt to eat local and eat vegan and vegetarian to be more sustainable.

Tourism is socially sustainable when monuments and cultures are left intact and not disturbed or exploited. Taking a stand against child labour is also a hallmark of a sustainable holiday.

A holiday is an economically sustainable holiday when you invest in local communities and aim for as lower level of leakage as possible, preferably zero.

Overall, by being considerate of people in different places and in different generations and by taking a few simple steps, you can make holidaying far more sustainable.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below. What do you think makes a holiday a sustainable holiday?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

Do you need a speaker for your event?

Click the image below to book me to speak at your next event or meeting.

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This article analyses 4 changes to people’s lifestyles that can have an extraordinary impact to make sustainability happen.

This article was inspired by the recent and astonishingly well written paper by Seth Wynes and Kimberly Nicholas. You can find a link for this paper below.

The Climate Mitigation Gap: Education and Government Recommendations vs. Effective Individual Actions

This critical paper considers a broad range of individual lifestyle choices and calculates their potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in developed countries.

Following a thorough review, they recommend 4 widely applicable high-impact actions. These are big changes that would substantially reduce annual personal emissions and lead to the kinds of system change that is needed to make sustainability a reality.

Let’s now turn to the 4 big changes for sustainability.

1.    Having one fewer child

This is a tough and sensitive area. But sustainability is a tough business. There is no point beating about the bush and hiding from the truth. Wynes and Nicholas should be praised for their willingness to investigate this subject matter.

This information is simply too important to ignore when there are changes that can lead to big reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

If you take a look at the graph below, which is drawn from page 4 in their paper, the evidence is clear. No other change even comes close to achieving the same emissions reductions.

page 4 graph.jpg

What this means, is that people who care about sustainability and who are interested in building a better world should consider having one fewer child.

It may not be the high flying technological advice that people want. But it is effective.

2.    Living car-free

Living car-free is an excellent way to make a big change that makes sustainability happen.

As the graph shows, this change makes a big difference. The difference is much bigger than simply buying a more efficient car.

Electric vehicles are excellent and they are certainly required in some capacity, hopefully as a product of service or as a rental option for when a car is absolutely necessary.

But even electric vehicles facilitate the never ending miles of low density urban sprawl. James Howard Kunstler was right when he decried this as a: “geography of nowhere.” These low density areas have an enormous environmental footprint of their own.

A car-free lifestyle has to be the preferred option. It reduces congestion, making streets and cities more liveable. A car-free lifestyle would also go a long way to reducing obesity and contribute towards reducing air pollution, which engulfs many cities.

A car-free lifestyle is an essential pillar of any sustainable lifestyle.

3.  Avoiding aeroplane travel

This is probably the big change that people are most familiar with. Lots of people know that flying causes the release of greenhouse gasses. Lots of people also know that it is necessary that steps are taken to reduce these gasses. The question is how many people act on this information? Perhaps more would, if they were aware of the impact, compared to other initiatives.

Avoiding aeroplane travel saved 1.6 tCO2e per roundtrip transatlantic flight avoided. This is a big number. Even if you added all of the low-impact actions together, they would scarcely come close.

The following actions are big on media attention, but low on impact.

  • Upgrade lightbulbs
  • Hang dry clothes
  • Recycle
  • Wash clothes in cold water

That’s not to say that they are unimportant. They still need to be pursued as some of them present other non-climate related environmental problems.

But what is clear, is that flying less is an essential element of a sustainable lifestyle.

4.  Eating a plant-based diet

This is my personal favourite and another vindication of the enormous sustainability benefits of vegan lifestyles.

Eating a plant-based diet saved 0.8 tCO2e per year, again another big number. In relation to more heavily promoted strategies the scale becomes clear.  Recycling is 4 times less effective and changing household lightbulbs is 8 times less effective at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Interestingly, a completely plant based diet is 2 – 4.7 times more effective at reducing greenhouse gas emissions than just decreasing meat consumption.

There are also more rounded benefits of plant-based diets such as biodiversity conservation and a reduction in many common illnesses.

All these benefits and we haven’t even touched upon the moral questionability of the industrial farming system that consumes land and animals lives on an unimaginable scale. That will have to wait for a subsequent article.

Clearly eating a plant-based diet is an essential component of a sustainable lifestyle.

What you need to know

This article analysed 4 changes that people can make that have an extraordinary impact to make sustainability happen.

This article was inspired by the recent paper by Seth Wynes and Kimberly Nicholas. I highly encourage readers to find and read the original text, their findings are important.

The following changes were looked into:

1.     Having one fewer child

2.    Living car-free

3.    Avoiding aeroplane travel

4.    Eating a plant-based diet

These strategies and lifestyle changes are exponentially more effective than commonly held solutions.

We can only hope that this paper’s findings act as a siren warning to wake the world from its slumber.

Achieving sustainability requires bold action. Incremental solutions will only get you so far.

Mass adoption of the 4 actions identified here are essential to achieve sustainability. The foundations of a sustainable society are sustainable lifestyles. They are needed now more than ever.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below. It’s great to hear about other people’s experiences in taking sustainability forward.

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby