A new study claims that a global decline of at least 75 percent in the way meat is eaten could help offset climate change. Researchers at Germany’s Forest University say that every EU citizen consumes about 80 kg of meat each year, which harms animal husbandry, the climate and the environment. They argued that there is good reason to significantly reduce the use of animal-based foods, for example, ruminants (herbivorous mammals) produce methane, which accelerates global warming.
Animals also convert a portion of the calories they feed into meat. To feed the same number of people, a lot of land is needed for meat. This is to the detriment of the ecosystem, as there is less space left for conservation of natural species.
In addition, eating too much meat is unhealthy and can promote chronic disease. “If all people ate meat like Europeans or North Americans, we would certainly miss international climate targets and many ecosystems would collapse,” said Dr. Matin Kaim, a professor at the varsity’s Center for Development Research (ZEF).
“So we need to significantly reduce the consumption of meat, ideally 20 kg or less per year. The war in Ukraine and the consequent shortage in the international market for cereal crops also emphasize that animals should be fed less grain to support food security,” Kaim said.
Currently, about half of all grain produced worldwide is used as animal feed, Qaim noted. At the same time, a complete transformation of humanity into a vegetarian or non-vegetarian diet may not be the best solution, researchers say.
Because there are many areas where plant-based food cannot be grown. Plant sources of high-quality protein and micro-nutrients are lacking, especially in poor areas.
For many people, animals are also an important source of income. If revenue from milk, eggs and meat is lost, it could threaten their livelihood.
However, poor countries are not the problem, the author noted. For their inhabitants, meat is usually much less on the menu than in developed countries. This means that especially rich countries must reduce their meat consumption, the researchers said.
Kaim believes it is also important to consider higher taxes on animal-based foods. The group called for “sustainable use” to be increasingly integrated with the school curriculum. These topics should be better incorporated into the training of future teachers.