FCRN calls for less meat consumption plus greater efficiency

People need to consume less meat and food production methods need to become more efficient if the food production sector is to reduce its impact on climate change, as well as feed the growing global population.

Speaking about the global livestock challenge at the ‘Sustaining the Health of the Nation’ conference in London today, Dr Tara Garnett from the Food Climate Research Network, based at the University of Oxford, said meat was a key global issue with multiple implications for economics, health and the environment.

“There is predicted to be a doubling of demand for meat and dairy by 2050. This is not sustainable; the figures don’t stack up,” she said.

One solution, she suggested, was to eat less meat but of better quality. She quoted a 2011 study, which found that a typical UK male’s diet contains about five times more animal protein than the daily recommended amount of 55g.

“But it’s important we find a ‘less but better’ framework that allows the industry to flourish. Meat is not the villain of the piece as most NGOs would suggest, but nor is it the saviour either,” she said.

She concluded that the food industry must adopt a global outlook to the challenges the UK faces, as there were no simple technological fixes. Instead a multi-strand approach was required, including accepting that less but better was compatible with nutritional health and that the economic challenges of global production should not be used as an excuse for inaction.

She also called on agencies to do more to change people’s attitudes to their diet and, in turn, change consumptive behaviour. “We can’t afford to do nothing. Constructive thinking is needed now before it’s too late,” she said.

See a summary of the conference in tweets.

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