Aussies must give up 'meat addiction' to help fight climate change, academics say | Totally Vegan Buzz

Aussies must give up ‘meat addiction’ to help fight climate change, academics say

Eating red meat increases risk of heart diseases by 18%, mega study says
Image: VasiliyBudarin / Shutterstock.com

According to the authors, Aussies should become ‘flexitarian’ and reduce meat consumption by 80-90%.

Academics have asked Australians to cut beef from their diets to meet climate change targets and hit net zero by 2050.

In a new book called Food in a Planetary Emergency, authors Diana Bogueva and Dora Marinova have blamed Aussie meat-eaters for aggravating the crisis.

The findings in the book have been condensed from hundreds of peer-reviewed studies and meta-analyses that link food to environmental impact.

According to the authors, one calorie of beef requires a whopping 38 calories to create, causing one-third of all greenhouse gases and wiping out wildlife due to land clearing.

Dr Bogueva, from the University of Sydney’s Centre for Advanced Food Engineering, said the livestock industry has had detrimental effects on the planet through a loss of biodiversity, deforestation, erosion of grassland, plastics pollution, depletion of the planet’s soils, overuse of freshwater and exploitation of species.

The authors also cited a report by EAT-Lancet which suggests that people’s red meat consumption should be slashed to 14g a day. They added that going flexitarian – which is eating a mostly plant-based diet with the occasional meat – will drastically reduce greenhouse emissions and decrease the impact of farming on the environment.

“Rather than growing the grain or the food we need for human consumption we are growing the grain for the animals – and then eating them.” Prof Marinvoa told the ABC.

”That’s a very inefficient and irrational way of feeding the population.”

 She added that while Australians are “addicted to meat”, the Gen Z population are more open to changing their eating habits.

“They are quite keen to increase their consumption of traditional plant-based food such as fruit and vegetables, legumes, tubers, but they are more hesitant to go to alternative proteins despite this industry essentially booming,” Prof Marinova said.

Meat industry response

The academics’ observations and comments have been dismissed as outdated and “lazy” by the meat lobby.

Meat and Livestock Australia managing director Jason Strong said: “The information is either old or it’s a naive interpretation of the information and in some cases it’s just plain lazy.”

He claimed the authors have oversimplified problems which are way more complex. Plus, he added that they misrepresented the food production system and miscalculated calorie conversion rates, cattle emissions and land clearing.

He added that the beef industry has outlined a plan to be carbon neutral by 2030 and farmers are trialling methods to increase biodiversity.

“Agriculture is conscious of the need to be long term sustainable [and] is responding faster than anybody else,” he said.

Strong also rejected the EAT-Lancet’s report, saying it was biased and largely discredited.

Richard Eckard, professor of sustainable agriculture at The University of Melbourne, said:

“To say we need to [reduce our red meat consumption] for greenhouse gas emissions is misguided and naïve.

“It completely ignores that we have emerging technology that can reduce livestock emissions by as much as 80 per cent.

“I would say the carbon-neutral-by-2030 announcement by the red meat industry in Australia is one of the most significant announcements towards a climate response that we‘ve seen anywhere.”

Strong added: “We’re going to have 2.2 billion more people by 2050 and we’re going to need all the sustainable food production we can get.

“We’re not going to be able to do it by people selectively sniping at different parts of the supply chain.

“We have the responsibility and the opportunity to feed the world and save the planet at the same time, and that’s what we plan to do.”

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