How Much Meat Can A Person Eat Without Destroying The World?

hamburger eating

Photo: lunchtimemama via Flickr

The world loves its meat. Unfortunately, our insane appetite for the fleshy food product is also destroying the planet. Among the wide-ranging environmental impacts associated with conventional livestock production include global warming, land degradation, and air and water pollution. 

According to a 2006 report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture organisation, livestock production accounts for 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions, though some researchers estimate factory farming contributes to at least 32.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year, or more than half of all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions.

Looking forward, those figures are likely to swell as the world population hurdles toward an expected 9 billion by 2050, doubling the global demand for meat.

Apart from a mass conversion to vegetarianism, how are we to mitigate meat’s threats to the environment?

According to The New Scientist’s Sujata Gupta, the solution is to eat less meat.

The magazine spoke with Colin Butler, a researcher from the Australian National University in Canberra, who estimates that if every person in the world ate 80 to 85 grams of red and white meat (one burger and one chicken fillet every three days), greenhouse gas emissions from meat products would stabilise at 2005 levels.  

This will prove challenging considering the average person in the industrial world currently eats about 220 grams of meat a day.

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