Save lives by reducing our consumption of meat

Sauver des vies en réduisant notre consommation de viande

Photo: Andre Penner Associated Press
The study stresses that the production of beef generates 25% of all greenhouse gas emissions attributable to the world’s food production.

The reduction of our consumption of meat could help reduce “drastically” the greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, but also the deaths related to the diet, concludes a new study published Thursday by the world economic Forum (in English). This shift is essential to meet the increasing demand for food.

This analysis, produced by the Oxford Martin School, reinforces the idea, more in focus, that humanity will absolutely reduce its consumption of meat to fight climate change and feed a world population expected to reach 10 billion people within a few decades (compared to 7.5 billion currently).

The researchers stress that as well as the production of beef generates 25% of all greenhouse gas emissions attributable to the world’s food production. In a context of continuing growth in demand, an increase in beef production would therefore lead to an “environmental pressure is massive,” one can read in the document of some thirty pages.

“It will be impossible to satisfy in a sustainable way the future demand for the meat,” insists the executive director of the world economic Forum, Dominic Waughray, in the press release that accompanies the publication of the study. But ” it is possible to produce enough food for 10 billion people and improve their health, without necessarily ceasing to eat meat “, he adds.

To do this, it would be necessary to improve, inter alia, agricultural practices, consider consuming globally, more insects and shift to a diet that is ” more diverse “. This last avenue is also mentioned in the most recent report of the intergovernmental Group of experts on climate change.


This diversity, that some call ” flexitarisme “, would reduce substantially the emissions of greenhouse gases, concluded last fall a study published in the scientific magazine Nature.

According to the data recorded in this study, the production of a single kilogram of beef generates 32.5 kg of CO2. For the lamb, it assesses the balance sheet to 33 kg per kilogram product, and 2.9 kg for the pork. Conversely, the balance sheet is 0.1 kg for soybeans, and 0.06 kg in average for the vegetables, 0.7 kg for tree nuts and 1.18 for the rice.

Sauver des vies en réduisant notre consommation de viande

In addition to GHG emissions, the products of animal origin dominate large areas of arable land, for an average of four to six square meters for every kilogram of beef, chicken, lamb, or pork. However, the new agricultural land is made available through deforestation. In the Amazon, for example, nearly 75 % of the vast areas of natural lost have been to the advantage of the production of meat or cereals needed for animal feed.

The researchers, whose work has been published in Nature therefore suggest a shift to a diet more ” herbal “. On average, the inhabitants of the planet should be reduced by almost 75 % of their consumption of red meat. For Canadians, this decline would be more of the order of 85 %, taking for granted a passage to one meal with meat per week.

Human health

The study published on Thursday by the world economic Forum also points out that the portion of beef to other sources of protein would reduce from 2.4% to 5 % of the deaths related to the diet. This reduction would be particularly pronounced in developed countries, large consumers of red meat livestock.

The study did not provide figures on the number of people who die each year of causes food, but the world economic Forum has stated that the replacement of meat with other proteins ” could prevent millions of unnecessary deaths per year.”

Share Button