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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

UN Urges Global Move To Meat And Dairy-Free Diet

From our friends at Viva Vegie!

Big report out of the UN. Must see. - Pamela Rice


UN urges global move to meat and dairy-free diet

Lesser consumption of animal products is
necessary to save the world from the worst
impacts of climate change, UN report says

Felicity Carus

112-page online version at:

A global shift towards a vegan diet is vital to
save the world from hunger, fuel poverty and the
worst impacts of climate change, a UN report said

As the global population surges towards a
predicted 9.1 billion people by 2050, western
tastes for diets rich in meat and dairy products
are unsustainable, says the report from United
Nations Environment Programme's (UNEP)
international panel of sustainable resource

It says: "Impacts from agriculture are expected
to increase substantially due to population
growth increasing consumption of animal products.
Unlike fossil fuels, it is difficult to look for
alternatives: people have to eat. A substantial
reduction of impacts would only be possible with
a substantial worldwide diet change, away from
animal products."

Professor Edgar Hertwich, the lead author of the
report, said: "Animal products cause more damage
than [producing] construction minerals such as
sand or cement, plastics or metals. Biomass and
crops for animals are as damaging as [burning]
fossil fuels."

The recommendation follows advice last year that
a vegetarian diet was better for the planet from
Lord Nicholas Stern, former adviser to the Labour
government on the economics of climate change. Dr
Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the UN's
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC),
has also urged people to observe one meat-free
day a week to curb carbon emissions.

The panel of experts ranked products, resources,
economic activities and transport according to
their environmental impacts. Agriculture was on a
par with fossil fuel consumption because both
rise rapidly with increased economic growth, they

Ernst von Weizsaecker, an environmental scientist
who co-chaired the panel, said: "Rising affluence
is triggering a shift in diets towards meat and
dairy products - livestock now consumes much of
the world's crops and by inference a great deal
of freshwater, fertilisers and pesticides."

Both energy and agriculture need to be
"decoupled" from economic growth because
environmental impacts rise roughly 80% with a
doubling of income, the report found.

Achim Steiner, the UN under-secretary general and
executive director of the UNEP, said: "Decoupling
growth from environmental degradation is the
number one challenge facing governments in a
world of rising numbers of people, rising
incomes, rising consumption demands and the
persistent challenge of poverty alleviation."

The panel, which drew on numerous studies
including the Millennium ecosystem assessment,
cites the following pressures on the environment
as priorities for governments around the world:
climate change, habitat change, wasteful use of
nitrogen and phosphorus in fertilisers,
over-exploitation of fisheries, forests and other
resources, invasive species, unsafe drinking
water and sanitation, lead exposure, urban air
pollution and occupational exposure to
particulate matter.

Agriculture, particularly meat and dairy
products, accounts for 70% of global freshwater
consumption, 38% of the total land use and 19% of
the world's greenhouse gas emissions, says the
report, which has been launched to coincide with
UN World Environment day on Saturday.

Last year the UN's Food and Agriculture
Organisation said that food production would have
to increase globally by 70% by 2050 to feed the
world's surging population. The panel says that
efficiency gains in agriculture will be
overwhelmed by the expected population growth.

Prof Hertwich, who is also the director of the
industrial ecology programme at the Norwegian
University of Science and Technology, said that
developing countries - where much of this
population growth will take place - must not
follow the western world's pattern of increasing
consumption: "Developing countries should not
follow our model. But it's up to us to develop
the technologies in, say, renewable energy or
irrigation methods." © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010

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