A new United Nations report says that people living in rich countries should eat half as much meat as they usually do in order for people in poor countries to eat more without harming the environment.
UN scientists said that billions of people in poor countries should be allowed to eat more animal protein, reports the Guardian. But in order to protect the environment, the increased consumption of meat products poor countries must come at the expense of meat consumption in rich countries.
“Eat meat, but less often — make it special,” Professor Mark Sutton, the author of a UN Environment Program study, told the Guardian. “Portion size is key. Many portions are too big, more than you want to eat. Think about a change of culture that says, ‘I like the taste, but I don’t need so much of it.’”
The growth in meat consumption in rich countries has diverted large amounts of grain to raising livestock and required the extensive use of fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides which has helped cause “a web of water and air pollution that is damaging human health,” according to the UN report.
The Guardian reports that “[t]he run-off from these chemicals is creating dead zones in the seas, causing toxic algal blooms and killing fish, while some are threatening bees, amphibians and sensitive ecosystems.”
“The attention this meat scare has drawn [highlights] poor quality meat. It shows society must think about livestock and food choices much more, for the environment and health,” Sutton said.
Sutton told the Guardian that he wants Europe to pioneer the change in diet because it will be harder to change people’s minds in the US.
“Unless action is taken, increases in pollution and per capita consumption of energy and animal products will exacerbate nutrient losses, pollution levels and land degradation, further threatening the quality of our water, air and soils, affecting climate and biodiversity,” warns the report.
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