Our current diet of meat and two veg has come under a lot of fire recently with Lord Stern’s report, Sir Paul McCartney Meat Free Monday and the UN all suggesting we stop eating meat to prevent catastrophic climate change. However, a new report, ‘Eating the Planet?’ by Friends of the Earth and Compassion in World Farming shows that we can feed a growing global population by using planet friendly farming methods and eating less, but better, meat.
Intensive farming currently used to mass produce meat for people in rich countries – who eat around six times as much meat as those in the poorest countries – is destroying forests and wildlife as land is cleared to grow animal feed and graze cattle. Furthermore, continuing to eat more meat and dairy globally – the production of which already generates more climate-changing emissions than all of the world's transport – will push the world's climate and resources over the edge.
The research detailed in the report models future food production against different diets, farming methods and land use, and concludes that enough food can be produced to feed the growing world population with fairer and healthier diets whilst avoiding deforestation and animal cruelty.
The researchers found that a diet equivalent to eating meat three times a week would allow forests to remain untouched, animals to be farmed in free-range conditions and greener farming methods to be used. The report also points out that, with as many people obese in the West as malnourished in poor countries – roughly a billion of each – distributing protein more fairly is also an opportunity to tackle global health problems.
Individuals can make a real difference by choosing less intensively reared meat and dairy production and eating less. This would still mean the average European could have a balanced diet of one small beef steak, one portion of fish, one portion of chicken, two pork sausages and two eggs over the course of a week, as well as a small amount of dairy products every day. It’s better for you and it’s better for the planet.
Go to www.foe.co.uk for a full copy of “Eating the Planet?”.