While he's not yet made the leap to cutting meat completely out of his diet (like Al Gore or James Cameron), billionaire business mogul Richard Branson is at least taking a step in the right direction with his recent decision to give up beef. The 63-year-old recently explained the shift in a blog post, citing both health and environmental reasons.
"For the last few months, I have given up what was previously one of my favorite foods: beef. Eating less red meat can be healthier, better for the environment and – surprisingly to me – really easy to do so," he writes.
Branson goes on to quote numerous studies that have linked livestock to one of the main culprits behind 14.5 percent of greenhouse gas emissions — with beef production accounting for 41 percent of those emissions. Modern beef farming is also a massive drain on water supplies and plays a significant role in deforestation and desertification stresses.
"But it is possible to change," he continues. "Reducing meat consumption is a growing trend, driven by health and environmental considerations. A switch to a ‘healthy diet’ as recommended by Harvard Medical School — which still includes eating meat, fish and eggs — would reduce GHG emissions from food production by 36%."
As a result of this simple dietary subtraction, Branson says he feels "healthier and more active" and finds that he's also eating less.
If director James Cameron has his way, Branson will likely start dropping other livestock products from his diet shortly as well. The "Avatar" director and his wife are planning a massive global education campaign to encourage plant-based diets and a reduction in worldwide meat consumption. In a recent Reddit AMA, Cameron explained that the single biggest way to help fight climate change is to stop eating animals.
"Because of the huge, huge carbon footprint of animal agriculture, I was shocked to find out that animal agriculture directly or indirectly accounts for 14.5% of all greenhouse gas emissions, compared to all transportation; every ship, car, truck, plane on the planet only accounts for 13%. Less than animal agriculture," he wrote. "So most people think that buying a Prius is the answer, and it’s certainly not wrong, but it’s not the biggest agent of climate change."
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