Meat-eaters, you are causing severe loss of land!
According to a new study, meat-eaters might be harming the world in more ways than one. Growing meat consumption is leading to loss of land: reportedly, an area equal to 1.5 times the size of EU could be saved if everyone ate just enough meat to meet dietary requirements. Increased land use is threatening areas like the Amazon, Congo Basin and even the Himalayas.
For meat production, land is needed to produce animal feed. One common requirement is soy: it is estimated that if the current meat consumption rate continues, soy production will rise 80% by 2050. In fact, in 2010, Britain was using an area roughly the size of Yorkshire (over eight times bigger than Delhi) for soy production used as animal feed.
According to the WWF, excessive animal product consumption accounts for 60% of all biodiversity loss. The UK food industry alone has contributed to the extinction of 33 species. Meat has also become less nutritious: to get the same amount of omega-3 fatty acid you could gain from one chicken in the 1970s, you will now have to eat six intensively-reared chickens.
If everyone ate just enough animal products to meet dietary needs, agricultural land required would reduce by 13%: 650mn hectares would be saved. "For people and nature to thrive we need to consume and produce food differently," says WWF food policy manager Duncan Williamson.