It's not the plate, it's what's on it - opinion

The Environmental Protection Ministry recently passed a regulation banning disposable silverware from some of the North’s nature reserves.

COWS DRINK from a trough in the fields of the Jezreel Valley in 2018. (Anat Hermony/Flash90) (photo credit: ANAT HERMONY/FLASH90)
COWS DRINK from a trough in the fields of the Jezreel Valley in 2018. (Anat Hermony/Flash90)
(photo credit: ANAT HERMONY/FLASH90)
 The Environmental Protection Ministry recently passed a regulation banning disposable silverware from some of the North’s nature reserves.
Forward-looking municipalities like Herzliya and Eilat are already ahead of the problem, having banned these utensils from their beaches. These moves are necessary and express the disgust of natural parks’ visitors from litter and the disposable culture that has spread throughout Israel. They are also needed because the per capita consumption rate of disposable silverware use in Israel is one of the highest in the world. 
I applaud this move, but there is a bit of an absurdity in that the Environmental Protection Ministry – and all of us along with it – is devoting so much effort to the vessel in which the food reaches our mouth, and not to what is loaded on this vessel.
An article published last month in Science magazine shows that even if we stop all greenhouse gas emissions from fuels and energy production, the emissions from growing animals for food alone will prevent the world from being able to slow the rise in global temperatures. In other words, science tells us we can’t avoid massive environmental destruction as long as we continue to consume the amount of meat we do today.
The people at the Environmental Protection Ministry know this, and yet they prefer to deal with disposable silverware. Let it not be misunderstood. This is a good and important cause, but it is impossible to ignore that on this much more important issue, a thin voice of silence rises from Jerusalem. It seems the ministry is afraid to touch the public’s holy cow (literally), which is what’s on their plate (again, literally).
If need be mentioned, the effects of animal food industries are destructive. In Brazil, rain forests are burning at a rate of three football fields per minute, thanks to the encouragement of the Brazilian government and its president, Jair Bolsonaro, who want to free up land for cattle grazing, or for growing soy that is used as animal feed in Brazil and around the world. Of the global land area suitable for agricultural cultivation, 70% is used for feeding livestock. 
That is shocking considering that about a billion people go to bed hungry every night and given that those 70% provide less than one-fifth of the carbohydrates in the human diet and only a third of the protein. Most scientists agree that the animal food industry is responsible for about 15-25% of greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.
We are starting to see signs around the world as well as in Israel that the future might be devoid of any meat. The huge supermarket chain Sainsbury’s announced last month that it will stop selling meat in branches due to a drastic drop in demand, and a restaurant/workshop that allows people to taste meat substitute grown in a laboratory was opened last month in Ness Ziona.
Because of messages like this article, which call for a change in the attitude regarding animal-based food, Donald Trump ran an election campaign with the message “The Democrats want to take your hamburgers.”
Perhaps he also relied on a cry from health experts in England to tax meat products due to their destructive harm to the environment and health, and the call of the International Scientists Panel to impose taxes on animal-based food in order to reduce the risk of epidemics spreading (due to the harm that growing animals for food imposes on biodiversity and epidemic immunity).
So no, no one is taking your hamburger anywhere.
We’re just asking you to look around at the world slowly disappearing between our hands and hear what science has to say. You do not have to stop enjoying what you like, but you can make a decision to reduce your meat consumption to once or twice a week. That’s enough to start. The world can’t absorb what we load on our disposable plates, whose use we have finally banned.
The writer is head of the Circular Engineering and Economy Institute at the Afeka Tel Aviv Academic College of Engineering.