Worldwide average meat consumption could be realistically reduced by 10% to reduce the already substantial impact of livestock production on greenhouse gas emissions. This would also reduce health risks associated with very high consumption of red meat. These are the conclusions of Professor Tony McMichael, The Australian National University, Canberra, Australia, and Dr John Powles, Department of Public Health and Primary Care, University of Cambridge, UK and colleagues, authors of this fifth paper in The Lancet's Series on Energy and Health, titled "Food, livestock production, energy, climate change, and health."
The authors say: "Worldwide, agricultural activity, especially livestock production, accounts for about a fifth of total greenhouse-gas emissions, thus contributing to climate change and its adverse health consequences, including the threat to food yields in many regions. Particular policy attention should be paid to the health risks posed by the rapid worldwide growth in meat consumption, both by exacerbating climate change and by directly contributing to certain diseases." To prevent increased greenhouse-gas emissions increasing from this sector, worldwide consumption of meat and the intensity of emissions from livestock production must be reduced.
Global average meat consumption is currently 100g per person per day, with about a ten-fold variation between high-consuming and low-consuming populations. 90g per day is proposed as a working global target, shared more evenly, and with not more than 50g per day coming from red meat from ruminants (ie, cattle, sheep, goats, and other digastric grazers).