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There have been numerous studies linking the consumption of meat to health risks, but a new report by the Union of Concerned Scientists claims that meat production is just as dangerous to the environment. The study, entitled “Grade A Choice? Solutions for Deforestation-Free Meat,” states that the vast amounts of land required for meat production is one of the leading causes of deforestation and global warming emissions. Findings also reveal that a shift towards less red meat consumption would protect the planet by drastically reducing those emissions.
“We have a big beef with beef,” said Doug Boucher, a Union of Concerned Scientists’ director and co-author of the report in a statement. “Because of the way it is produced, the more beef we eat, the worse global warming gets.”
Calling red meat “ecologically inefficient,” the report finds that beef production consumes a staggering 60 percent of the world’s agricultural land, but returns less than 5 percent of the protein and 2 percent of the calories that feeds the world.
“Beef production causes global warming through its effects on deforestation, both directly through pasture and indirectly through its use of feed and forage, and also because of the methane, a powerful heat-trapping gas, that comes from the stomachs and manure of cattle,” says a passage taken from the report.
The study comes on the heels of similar findings by scientists at England’s University of Exeter and published in the “Energy and Environmental Science” journal earlier this month. According to their research, society needs to eat less meat and recycle more waste for any chance of rebalancing the world’s carbon cycle, not to mention feed a global population of 9.3 billion people by the year 2050.
“To make a really significant difference, however,” stresses the report, “we will need to bring down the average global meat consumption from 16.6 per cent to 15 per cent of average daily calorie intake – about half that of the average western diet.”