According to the report Appetite for Destruction, meat consumption is impacting some of the world’s most valuable and vulnerable regions. This is largely due to the substantial amount of land needed to produce animal feed.
The Western diet, which is notoriously high in meat in dairy, is the major culprit. In fact, the growing popularity of the diet means an area 1.5 times the size of the European Union could be saved if global consumption of animal products was cut to meet nutritional requirements, reports The Independent.
The areas most threatened include the Amazon, Congo Basin and the Himalayas. There, water and land resources are already sought after.
According to the report, excessive animal product consumption is responsible for 60 percent of all biodiversity loss. “The world is consuming more animal protein than it needs and this is having a devastating effect on wildlife,” said Duncan Williamson, WWF food policy manager.
“A staggering 60 per cent of global biodiversity loss is down to the food we eat. We know a lot of people are aware that a meat-based diet has an impact on water and land, as well as causing greenhouse gas emissions, but few know the biggest issue of all comes from the crop-based feed the animals eat,” he added.
In addition to overeating, many people consume too much protein. Current dietary guidelines recommend 45 to 55 grams of protein per day. But in the UK, the average person consumes between 64 and 88g. Reportedly, 37 percent is meat-based.
The report claims that if everyone on the planet reduced their animal product consumption to meet nutritional requirements, the total amount of land required for agriculture would be reduced by 13 percent. Such would result in nearly 650 million hectares being saved from agricultural production.
It was also noted that conventionally-produced meat has become less nutritious. Not only are the levels of healthy omega-3 fat declining, there is a rise in unhealthy saturated fat. This combination produces inflammation in the body.
“For people and nature to thrive we need to consume and produce food differently. Eating less animal protein would allow us to farm in a more sustainable way, with less impact on the environment and healthier and more nutritious food.”
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