Meat – some love it, some hate it, and lots of people argue about whether we should eat it or not . There is certainly an ethical argument for not eating meat – many believe that we should not make animals suffer unnecessarily [2,3]. In terms of environmental impacts, it’s clear that eating meat rather than plant-based alternatives is damaging for nature and the climate [4, 5]. Let’s explore why:
When a cow eats, only about 3% of the energy it gets from its plant-based diet is converted into meat – the rest is used by the cow for things like walking around and keeping itself warm [6,7,8]. This is a very inefficient way for us to get food; if we ate the cow’s food (or other plants) rather than the cow itself, we would avoid this energy loss !
We would therefore also require much less land to produce the same amount of food [8,9]. If everyone worldwide became vegan, it’s estimated that we would need 76% less land to grow enough food for everybody .
Eating food that uses less land would mean we could stop cutting down forests to make way for farmland [10,11,12] – there is more than enough space to feed everyone with a low or no-meat diet . Converting farmland to natural habitat would be beneficial not just for wildlife but also for humans – for example, forests, wetlands and meadows can reduce erosion of soil and coastline, increase water availability, and be beautiful places for people to enjoy, providing health and psychological benefits [12,13,14].
Cows and sheep are particularly bad for climate change because bacteria in their stomachs that help breakdown fibrous food cause them to burp methane [15,16]. Methane is a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, but it stays in the atmosphere for less time . This means that if we reduced meat production, the amount of methane in the air would decrease after just a few years .
Scientists advise that meat consumption globally should drop by about 50% in order to improve people’s health and ensure that we can feed the growing world population .
 https://www.debate.org/opinions/should-humans-eat-meat This illustrates that people do argue about whether we should eat meat
 https://books.google.co.uk/books?hl=en&lr=&id=_QpDDwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA209&dq=ethical+argument+vegan&ots=Itk9YnRbPY&sig=aC8r2zAKndiueei_zKW2cSDGS48#v=onepage&q=ethical%20argument%20vegan&f=false See: e.g. ‘Suffering: Other things being equal, it is wrong to cause suffering’
 https://eatforum.org/content/uploads/2019/07/EAT-Lancet_Commission_Summary_Report.pdf See: Transformation to healthy diets by 2050 will require substantial dietary shifts, and Achieving planetary health diets
 https://eatforum.org/eat-lancet-commission/ See: video for a neat summary of how diet change can benefit human health, hunger, and the environment, based on the EAT-Lancet report
 https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/11/10/105002/pdf See: Abstract and Discussion
 https://science.sciencemag.org/content/sci/360/6392/987.full.pdf?casa_token=HfilDLPwohkAAAAA:KFhDbCrJGnhje3CokKBGqPG1CC5NJ3XcKkU23fNqxWxxqY_qh7qUJh2C9lJewxwPm5sh_mkGi2PIe0M See: Mitigation through consumers and Producer mitigation limits and the role of consumers (‘deforestation for agriculture is dominated (67%) by feed, particularly soy, maize, and pasture’)
 https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/sites/4/2019/11/05_Chapter-2.pdf See: ‘Several mitigation response options have technical potential…’
 https://books.google.co.uk/books?hl=en&lr=&id=dVX1CAAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA3&ots=fubBUwDx5o&sig=CCODTMWaXsroeFKtgJlRX4HheGc#v=onepage&q&f=false See: Chapter 1 Rewilding, Abstract; Abandoned Landscapes in Europe and Benefits of Rewilding for Biodiversity; Benefits of Rewilding for People: Ecosystem Services
 https://www.naturebasedsolutionsevidence.info/evidence-tool/ See : Heatmap view: habitat type by climate change impact
 http://www.fao.org/3/i3461e/i3461e.pdf See: Key findings
 https://www.eci.ox.ac.uk/research/energy/downloads/methaneuk/methaneukreport.pdf See: Why Methane: Table 1 and Lifetime
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