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In our mailing of 1st July 2014 we highlighted a new paper by Pete Scarborough et al. which compared the GHG intensity of diets adopted by vegetarians, fish eaters and meat eaters in the UK. The Oxford Martin School has now published a short interview with Pete, in which he outlines his motivation for undertaking this work, the method he adopted, and the insights gained from the study.
Scarborough, P., "Q&A: Should We All Become Vegans to save the Planet?" Interview by Sally Stewart. Web log post. ThinkLONG. Oxford Martin School, University of Oxford, 08 July 2014.
This twentieth edition of the Agricultural Outlook, and the tenth prepared jointly between OECD and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), provides market projections to 2023 for major agricultural commodities, biofuels and fish across 41 countries and 12 regions: OECD member countries (European Union as a region), key non-OECD agricultural producers (such as India, China, Brazil, Russian Federation and Argentina) and groups of smaller non-OECD economies in a more aggregated form. This edition includes a special focus on India.
The Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) has launched a new report on sustainable diets - People, Plate and Planet, describing dietary choices that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and pressures on land. The report considers nutrition, GHG emissions and land use and states that the most significant impact on these areas comes from what we eat, not where it is from or how much packaging there is around it.
This paper provides a review of the current literature analysing environmental impacts of dietary recommendations. The review focuses on three aspects of dietary advice in particular: reducing the consumption of fat, reducing the consumption of meat-based protein and animal-based foods, and finally increasing the consumption of fruit and vegetables. It then reviews the environmental impact assessments and Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) that have been undertaken in foods that have relevance to these three dietary recommendations.
This study is one of the very few that examines the GHG impacts of a selection of real life ‘self selected’ diets as opposed to those that are modelled or hypothetical. It looks specifically at the dietary patterns (based on a standard 2,000 kcal diet) of UK vegetarians, semi-vegetarians and non-vegetarians. Approximately 55,500 subjects were chosen for the study, all part of the EPIC-Oxford cohort study.
The report investigates consumers’ meat eating patterns, the relationship with BMI, and their willingness to eat less meat or to eat meat that they may perceive to be ‘better’ in some way – eg. organic or free range.
In April 2014 the Food Climate Research Network organised a workshop, funded and hosted by the Wellcome Trust with additional support from the Food Security programme of the UK research councils. Its aim was to bring people together to develop a research agenda on how our eating practices might be shifted in healthier and more sustainable directions. Particular emphasis was placed on meat eating as an exemplar of an important, yet difficult aspect of our consumption practices, and one with a strong bearing on health and sustainability.