• Becci Pigeon

Does 'eating local' really make a difference to animals OR the environment?

Updated: Jan 20

Often when people are confronted with the cruelty and environmental destruction inherent in animal agriculture, they respond with, 'But I get my meat locally!'

This doesn't address the issue of cruelty; after all, all animal agriculture is local to somebody, and in fact, of the top ten UK counties with the highest numbers of intensively raised farmed animals, two are right here in Northern Ireland--County Antrim and County Tyrone. For a farm to qualify as 'intensive', it must contain at least 40,000 chickens, 2,000 pigs raised for meat or 750 pigs for breeding. The number of intensive farms have exploded across the UK but especially in Northern Ireland, with an increase of 68% in pig and poultry factory farms since 2011. And cruelty is routine in smaller farms as well because there is simply no getting away from the routine realities of animal agriculture as a whole: the slaughter of male dairy calves and male chicks born to the egg industry, the culling of 'spent' dairy cows and egg-laying hens and of course, the slaughter of animals who have barely reached a fraction of their lifespan.

But what about the environmental impact? When it comes to environmentally-friendly eating, it's simple. Studies have found that we should focus more on what we eat, not where it comes from. Transport makes up less than 10% of the overall emissions associated with agriculture; in fact, when it comes to products like beef and lamb, it makes up only 1%! The chart below explains more.

There are no excuses here: 'local' means very little when it comes to reducing one's impact either for cruelty or environmental reasons. You can opt out, though, and make a choice that's kinder for all of us--check out our list of awesome vegan starter kits!