New scientific research commissioned by Compassion in World Farming and Friends of the Earth shows that we can feed the booming world population without intensive livestock production just by choosing to eat less meat.
'Eating the planet?', published today (Wednesday 11 November 2009), reveals that we can still enjoy meat several times a week whilst feeding the world using planet-friendly and humane farming methods.
Researchers at The Institute of Social Ecology, in Austria and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany elaborated scenarios of future food production taking into consideration different diets, farming methods and land use. They concluded that a diet equivalent to eating meat three times a week would allow forests to remain untouched, animals to be farmed in free-range conditions and greener farming methods to be used.
With as many people obese in the West as malnourished in poor countries - roughly a billion of each - distributing protein more fairly is also an opportunity to tackle global health problems, the report points out.
Cruel and intensive factory farming practices currently used to mass produce meat for people in rich countries - who eat around six times as much meat as those in the poorest countries - are destroying forests and wildlife as land is cleared to grow animal feed and graze cattle.
Compassion in World Farming and Friends of the Earth are calling on Ministers to switch support from factory farming to planet-friendly and humane methods.
The groups also want the Government to take action to measure and reduce the impact of the UK's meat and dairy production and consumption - and to switch subsidies from intensive to planet-friendly and humane farming.
Lasse Bruun, Head of Campaigns at Compassion in World Farming, said: "It's great to see that we can actually do without factory farming and still eat meat, just by cutting down the amount we consume.
"With 60 billion animals being reared for livestock production every year and the figure set to double by 2050, we really need to re-consider our approach to farming.
"Animals are being reared like factory units to provide us with cheap meat. The true cost of eating too much meat is animal suffering, deforestation and obesity. We have the power to save our planet and be kind to animals. All we need to do is change our diets to a healthier and fairer option."
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