Over the past 50 years, global meat production has almost quadrupled from 84 million tons in to more than million tons in The IAASTD predicts that this trend will continue, especially because the growing urban middle classes in China and other emerging economies will adapt to the so-called western diet of people in North America and Europe with its taste for burgers and steaks. The production and consumption of pig and poultry meat is expected to grow at a much higher speed than of bovine and ovine meat. This figure includes babies and adults, meat eaters and vegetarians alike. In , US citizens consumed kilograms of meat and people in the UK 81 kilograms, while citizens in India only ate 3. In general, men eat more meat than women.
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- Meat-Free Monday Campaign
- How Big Meat Took Over the Food Industry
- Meat and Animal Feed
- Avoiding meat and dairy is ‘single biggest way’ to reduce your impact on Earth
- Your Questions About Food and Climate Change, Answered
- Beef and Dairy Industries in “Death Spiral,” Will Collapse by 2030, Report Says
- Environmental Impacts of Meat and Dairy Production
- Food scraps to become dairy and meat substitutes
- Green Business Network Member Recommendations
- Meat & Dairy Industries Overproduce Despite Plummeting Demand
Meat-Free Monday CampaignVIDEO ON THE TOPIC: Yes you CAN compost meat, dairy, and manure - Here's how
Global Justice Ecology Project. Leave a Comment. When we think of the big drivers of climate change, cars and air travel often come to mind. But transformations over the past century in the way food is produced and consumed have resulted in more greenhouse gas emissions than those from transportation.
The biggest culprits? Industrial meat and dairy. The most widely cited official estimate holds that the food system is responsible for up to 30 per cent of all greenhouse gas GHG emissions.
But the most important source of food system-related GHG emissions is the escalation of meat and dairy consumption—made possible by the expansion of industrial livestock and chemical-intensive feed crops.
There is no way the world can continue down this path without wildly overshooting the target, set by governments in Paris last year, of two degrees Celsius by Cutting consumption first requires understanding which meat and dairy production systems are most at fault, and the mechanisms and policies that prop them up.
Herders in poor countries and small farmers practising diversified crop and animal production are not the problem. Factory farming—promoted by the industrial meat lobby, corporate subsidies and free trade agreements—is the real climate culprit.
In addition to reducing global greenhouse gas emissions, reducing consumption in the countries that currently eat too much meat and dairy could have significant health and social welfare benefits. One study shows that reducing meat consumption as a means of fighting climate change would also cut the risk of colon cancer, heart disease and lung disease worldwide by 34 per cent. Other scientists point out that cutting meat and dairy consumption would cut infectious disease and reduce the emergence of antibiotic resistance, and have secondary effects as well.
The answer, quite simply, is yes. Decreasing meat and dairy consumption, especially in North America and Europe, would make a significant impact.
Like fossil fuel consumption, unsustainable meat consumption is driven primarily by rich countries. Countries like the US and Australia are the biggest consumers of meat worldwide with some 90 kg per person per year, followed closely by some countries in Latin America and the EU, Canada and Russia. North America, the EU and Brazil together account for half of all beef consumed worldwide.
Emissions from meat are on the rise in China too already at If these trends continue, world meat consumption will grow by a whopping 76 per cent by , while emissions from dairy, another major source of food sector emissions, will increase by 65 per cent.
The benefits of such a shift would be felt rather quickly. Methane, the major greenhouse gas from livestock, remains in the atmosphere for only ten years, compared to carbon dioxide, which lasts up to years.
Methane also traps 28 times more heat than CO2. Consequently, lowering the production of methane can have a relatively quick payoff. In addition, reducing food waste—especially meat—can have an important impact.
One third of the food we produce is wasted, generating about 4. Although meat accounts for less than 4 per cent of food waste by weight, it accounts for an astonishing one fifth of the global carbon footprint of food waste. Small farmers and pastoralists do not have to lose from a decrease in global meat and dairy consumption. In most of the Global South—where meat and dairy consumption is at sustainable levels—livestock is raised mainly by million small farmers practising low-emissions, mixed farming, plus million herders who often graze their animals in areas where crops cannot be grown.
Small-scale livestock production also enhances family nutrition, giving people access to both animal and plant based foods. Industrial meat and dairy production, however, sits at the other end of the spectrum. It is based on the highly concentrated production of cheap meat and powdered milk surpluses, which are traded as global commodities.
This surplus production is what underpins the unsustainable growth of global consumption—and the spectacular rise of GHG emissions. Factory farms are the most rapidly growing segment of meat and dairy production. They account for 80 per cent of the growth of global meat and dairy in recent years. Figure 2. A lot of the GHG emissions generated by industrial livestock occur indirectly, through the production of feed. In , about one third of all cereals produced went to feed, and the FAO predicts this figure will reach 50 per cent by An additional 56 million hectares of land were cultivated with soybeans and maize for animal feed in the first decade of the twenty-first century, resulting in the release of copious amounts of carbon dioxide through land use changes and deforestation.
Another major source of GHG emissions from factory farms is manure. The industrialisation of livestock means concentration, i. The sheer scale of the operations turns manure from a valuable natural fertiliser into a toxic problem. In the US, where this process is very advanced, in the early s less than one tenth of dairy cows were kept in herds of more than 1, cows. By , this figure had risen to one third. The same year, feedlots with a capacity of over 16, animals raised for beef were handling 60 per cent of US-fed cattle marketing.
According to the FAO, manure storing and processing are responsible for 10 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions related to livestock worldwide. The manure deposited by animals onto pasture produces about six to nine times less volatilised ammonia than surface-applied manure from CAFOs. According to the FAO, 20 per cent of the emissions generated to produce meat and dairy come from the use of fossil fuels . Most of this comes from factory farming, with its need for animal feed and the fertilisers used to grow it.
It also comes from the distribution and retail systems that industrial farming relies on, which demands electricity, heating, transport and refrigeration.
Scientists have been warning of this problem for at least a decade now. But efforts to tackle the issue invariably bump up against aggressive resistance from meat and dairy companies, who have the most to lose from actions that reduce consumption and curb factory farming. Email Address. Box 1. Added benefits of reducing meat and dairy consumption In addition to reducing global greenhouse gas emissions, reducing consumption in the countries that currently eat too much meat and dairy could have significant health and social welfare benefits.
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Take action against corporate greed, learn new ways to reduce your impact on the planet, and learn about green products you never knew existed. The industry has become a thing of the past; more concerned with profit and efficiency than the cows themselves. Due to consolidation, the majority of dairy cows are raised in large concentrated animal feeding operations CAFOs linked to issues of animal welfare and public and environmental health. When you drink a glass of milk there is a good chance that unbeknownst to you, you are consuming a product heavily reliant on genetically modified organisms GMOs. With such large numbers in a herd and no access to grazing, dairy cows consume a diet of mostly GE corn and soy.
How Big Meat Took Over the Food Industry
The environmental impact of meat production varies because of the wide variety of agricultural practices employed around the world. All agricultural practices have been found to have a variety of effects on the environment. Some of the environmental effects that have been associated with meat production are pollution through fossil fuel usage, animal methane, effluent waste, and water and land consumption. Meat is obtained through a variety of methods, including organic farming , free range farming , intensive livestock production , subsistence agriculture , hunting , and fishing. Meat is considered one of the prime factors contributing to the current sixth mass extinction. Globally it is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gases GHG and one of the leading causal factors in the loss of biodiversity , and in developed and emerging countries it is perhaps the leading source of water pollution.
Meat and Animal Feed
This contribution would have been much greater had the animal by-products been also efficiently utilized. Efficient utilization of by-products has direct impact on the economy and environmental pollution of the country. Non-utilization or under utilization of by-products not only lead to loss of potential revenues but also lead to the added and increasing cost of disposal of these products. Non-utilization of animal by-products in a proper way may create major aesthetic and catastrophic health problems. Besides pollution and hazard aspects, in many cases meat, poultry and fish processing wastes have a potential for recycling raw materials or for conversion into useful products of higher value.
Horizon articles can be republished for free under the Creative Commons Attribution 4. You must give appropriate credit. We ask you to do this by: 1 Using the original journalist's byline 2 Linking back to our original story 3 Using the following text in the footer: This article was originally published in Horizon, the EU Research and Innovation magazine. See our full republication guidelines here. Finicky eating habits and wasteful processes have led to a system that discards millions of tonnes of food each year, but new approaches are salvaging the scraps we never see to make products that people will want to eat. A mix of misaligned policies and incentives have created a situation in which the world produces far more food than it needs, Timmermans says. In the EU alone, around 88 million tonnes of food are thrown away each year. Since flawed agricultural policies that encourage overproduction are a part of the problem, some experts believe a solution lies in entirely rethinking how we use food. Researchers like Timmermans are now looking at ways to consume food that doesn't usually make it to our tables as well as remove the inefficiencies in the system that brings the products to us. Modern food production creates huge trails of waste known as side streams — potato peels, carrot pulp, bits of bananas, apples and a multitude of other by-products.
Avoiding meat and dairy is ‘single biggest way’ to reduce your impact on Earth
Global Justice Ecology Project. Leave a Comment. When we think of the big drivers of climate change, cars and air travel often come to mind.
That includes raising and harvesting all the plants, animals and animal products we eat — beef, chicken, fish, milk, lentils, kale, corn and more — as well as processing, packaging and shipping food to markets all over the world. Lots of ways. Here are four of the biggest: When forests are cleared to make room for farms and livestock — this happens on a daily basis in some parts of the world — large stores of carbon are released into the atmosphere, which heats up the planet. When cows, sheep and goats digest their food, they burp up methane, another potent greenhouse gas contributing to climate change. Animal manure and rice paddies are also big methane sources. Finally, fossil fuels are used to operate farm machinery, make fertilizer and ship food around the globe, all of which generate emissions. Meat and dairy, particularly from cows, have an outsize impact, with livestock accounting for around In general, beef and lamb have the biggest climate footprint per gram of protein, while plant-based foods tend to have the smallest impact.
Your Questions About Food and Climate Change, Answered
Introduction 1. General environmental impact 1. Overall waste production 1. The Key-indicator 1. Introduction The study describes and analyses the relationship between the production of waste in animal product processing industries on the one hand and the prevention and treatment of the waste on the other.
Beef and Dairy Industries in “Death Spiral,” Will Collapse by 2030, Report Says
Here are 10 reasons why the meat and dairy industry is unsustainable: 1. Deforestation Farm animals require considerably more land than crops to produce a given amount of food energy. In Central America alone, 40 percent of all rainforests have been cleared in the last 40 years for cattle pasture to feed the export market — often for U. The World Hunger Program calculated that recent world harvests — if distributed equitably and fed directly to humans, as opposed to livestock — could provide a vegan diet to 6 billion people. Fresh water Without a doubt, animal agriculture has one of the largest water footprints on the planet.
Environmental Impacts of Meat and Dairy Production
As meat industry sales go down, the United States is experiencing a huge surplus of animal products sold as food. Currently supplies of chicken, beef, pork, turkey, and milk far outweigh demand.
Food scraps to become dairy and meat substitutes
Avoiding meat and dairy products is the single biggest way to reduce your environmental impact on the planet, according to the scientists behind the most comprehensive analysis to date of the damage farming does to the planet. Loss of wild areas to agriculture is the leading cause of the current mass extinction of wildlife. The scientists also found that even the very lowest impact meat and dairy products still cause much more environmental harm than the least sustainable vegetable and cereal growing.
Green Business Network Member Recommendations
Francis Vergunst does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment. When we hear about the horrors of industrial livestock farming — the pollution, the waste, the miserable lives of billions of animals — it is hard not to feel a twinge of guilt and conclude that we should eat less meat. Over the next year, more than 50 billion land animals will be raised and slaughtered for food around the world. Most of them will be reared in conditions that cause them to suffer unnecessarily while also harming people and the environment in significant ways.
Meat & Dairy Industries Overproduce Despite Plummeting Demand
Kat has been writing about veganism, environment, and sustainability for five years. Their interests include over-analyzing the various socioeconomic forms of oppression, how that overlaps with veganism, and how the media in all of its forms reflects the current culture. The story of wholesome farmers who let their animals roam free no longer represents the industry. Meat is corporate now.