More money, more meat - how world’s richest countries are eating their way to extinction
The world’s richest countries, are literally eating their way to the extinction of humanity in the overconsumption of meat, according to a ground-breaking new report launched today (11 May) by Compassion in World Farming.
The report, called More Money More Meat, reveals for the first time, how much each high- and middle- income country must do to reduce its consumption of animal sourced foods – meat, fish and seafood, dairy and eggs – in order to live within planetary health boundaries. Iceland has the biggest reduction to make across all animal-sourced foods, at 73%, while the USA needs to cut its overconsumption of meat* by a massive 82%.
This is the first report to provide reduction figures for all animal-sourced foods and detailed calculations for actual consumption – including inedible parts of animal-sourced foods and waste at a household level – giving a more accurate picture of consumption. The calculations are based on the EAT-Lancet Planetary Health Diet which aims to provide healthy diets from sustainable food systems by 2050.
Revealed today at the international Extinction or Regeneration conference at the QEII Centre in London, the report explains how our insatiable appetite for cheap meat and other animal-sourced foods is driving the escalating climate, health and nature emergencies. It shows that massive reductions are needed across the top 25 high- and upper middle-income countries to safeguard the future health of people, animals and our planet.
Key insights from the report show that:
- Overall, Iceland has the most to do with a massive 73% reduction needed to get to 12% of calories in the diet from animal-sourced foods, followed by Finland (70%), Denmark (68%), Montenegro (66%) and Luxembourg (65%)
- When it comes to meat, the USA tops the countries needing the biggest reduction at 82% followed by Australia (80%); Argentina (80%); Israel (78%); and Spain (78%)
- Leading on fish and seafood overconsumption are: Iceland (77%); Maldives (76%); Seychelles (64%); Republic of Korea (63%); and Malaysia (63%)
- The top five reductions needed for dairy are: Finland (74%); Montenegro (74%); Albania (71%); Netherlands (69%); and Switzerland (68%)
- And for eggs it’s: Mexico (76%); China (76%); Japan (75%); Netherlands (74%); and Malaysia (73%)
- Despite compelling evidence, countries are failing to include the reduction of animal-sourced foods in their national action plans or food strategies
- Denmark is leading the way on progress, having recently published some of the world’s greenest dietary guidelines and has agreed to create a National Action Plan for Plant-Based Foods with significant funding
Organised by Compassion in World Farming with partners IPES-Food, the Institute of Development Studies and other partners, the game-changing Extinction or Regeneration conference has been convened to address the urgent need for more sustainable methods of food production that can feed future generations, while protecting humans, animals, and the planet.
Compassion’s Global CEO, Philip Lymbery, revealed the report’s findings in his keynote opening speech at the conference this morning. He warned: “In the richest countries we are, quite literally, eating our way to our own extinction. Our insatiable appetite for cheap meat and other animal-sourced foods is damaging our health, causing immense animal cruelty and killing our planet.
“Unless we wake up and act now to reduce this calamitous overconsumption, it will simply be too late. Responsibility lies with these richer nations to take immediate action through national policies to help combat their impact in driving the climate, health and nature emergencies.
"We must use this great opportunity provided by the Extinction or Regeneration conference to share solutions and drive forward pathways towards regenerative, climate- and nature-positive farming systems. The only way we can secure our future is to move away from factory farming and create a global food system that benefits animals, people and our planet – reducing our overconsumption of animal-sourced foods is a vital part of that.”
The report outlines the current lack of action by countries to tackle the problem and includes clear policy recommendations for reducing this overconsumption at a national level, including:
- Setting clear targets for reducing consumption of animal-sourced foods, aligned with the Paris Agreement and the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework
- Supporting these reduction targets with a holistic transformative food strategy or action plan, including a range of measures to enable uptake and meet targets for reduction
- Aligning dietary guidelines with the principles of the EAT-Lancet Planetary Health Diet for healthy diets from sustainable food systems and provide advice on healthy plant-based diets
- Ensuring subsidies are not provided for intensively farmed animals or their feed, and instead support producers of fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, legumes and nuts, as well as producers rearing farmed animals in high welfare nature-positive systems
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Notes to Editors
- View the More Money More Meat report methodology, which includes reductions for all103 high-and middle-income countries.
- *Meat from cattle and other bovine animals, mutton and goat meat, pig meat, poultry meat and all other types of meat.