Why do we need to significantly reduce our meat consumption?

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 11th October 2018

Why do we need to significantly reduce our meat consumption to avoid dangerous climate change?

Huge reductions in the consumption of meat are ‘essential’ to avoid dangerous climate change, according to new research.

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Reducing meat consumption is 'essential'

The report’s findings provided a shocking insight into the damage caused to the environment by the food system. The research also revealed the ‘essential’ steps required to try to reverse the damage which included beef consumption in Western countries needs to be reduced by 90% and replaced by five times more beans and pulses.


It also outlined that as part of the food lifecycle that massive changes within farming are also required to avoid destroying the world’s capacity to feed the 10 billion people that are forecast to be inhabiting the planet within the next few decades.

Two members of the Research team spoke to The Guardian about their findings. Marco Springmann at the University of Oxford (who led the project) said:

“It’s pretty shocking. We are really risking the sustainability of the whole system. If we are interested in people being able to farm and eat, then we better not do that.”

His thoughts were echoed by Prof Johan Rockström at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany who revealed:

“Feeding a world population of 10 billion is possible, but only if we change the way we eat and the way we produce food, Greening the food sector or eating up our planet: this is what is on the menu today.”

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The future of our planet is
in our hands

The production of food is already renowned for causing damage to the environment, via greenhouse gases from livestock, deforestation and water shortages from farming as well as from vast ocean dead zones from agricultural pollution. In fact, the food on your plate has a greater impact on climate change than the vehicle that you drive, according to a report on Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions Data.

So, what can be done to remedy this and what are the ramifications if we don’t change our dietary habits? The impact will further increase as the world’s population increases. It is set to increase by 2.3 billion people by the year 2050 which means more people wanting to consumer a meat-rich western diet.

The study follows the publication of a ground-breaking report by the UN published in the Nature journal which revealed that the world’s leading scientists warned there are just a dozen years in which to keep global warming under 1.5C. It also revealed that ‘eating less meat and dairy was important’ but said one of the key issues that required tackling was food waste. A spokesperson for the report said:

“Dietary and technological change [on farms] are the two essential things, and hopefully they can be complemented by a reduction in food loss and waste.” About a third of food produced today never reaches the table.”

The dietary changes required to try and reverse the damage caused by the Western diet also emphasised the need for US and UK citizens to cut their beef consumption by 90% and their milk consumption by 60%. It also stated that there was a requirement to increase their beans and pulse intake by between four and six times more than it is currently being consumed.

Ultimately, avoiding meat and dairy is the ‘single biggest way’ to reduce your impact on the planet.

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 11th October 2018

Why do we need to significantly reduce our meat consumption?