According to a new study by the World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF), the unfaltering planet-wide appetite for meat is massively straining Earth’s rich ecologies. Specifically, a truly staggering 60 percent loss of global biodiversity can be blamed squarely on our meat-based diets.
As has been known for some time, the impacts of eating meat on the environment are rather pronounced. However, a new report, entitled “Appetite for Destruction,” focuses on the underappreciated zoological consequences of relentlessly indulging our carnivorous proclivities.
“Feed crops are already produced in a large number of Earth’s most valuable and vulnerable areas,” the report explains.
“Many of these high-risk regions are not adequately covered by conservation schemes, and have low national conservation spending and high agricultural growth; some already suffer from relatively high land and water constraints.”
The worldwide rise in demand for meat, particularly in China and developing countries with burgeoning middle classes, means that – short of a technological revolution in agriculture – the area and resources needed to produce these crops will only expand and increase in number, respectively.
As the WWF elucidates, the impacts are so severe that the planet’s ecologies won’t be able to take much more.
Species as geographically and biologically diverse as the American bison, the maned wolf, the Siberian crane, the giant panda, the Amur leopard, the Asiatic black bear, the Bengal tiger, and the Asian elephant, along with thousands of others, are at direct risk of losing their habitat due to the meat industry’s agricultural practices.
The report also emphasizes that we’re eating more protein than needed. In the UK, for example, we’re eating up to twice the recommended daily allowance, and much of this is coming from meat.
Thanks to the way farming practices have been industrialized, we’re not even getting the same amount of nutrients as we used to. Six factory-farmed chickens have the same amount of the fatty acid omega-3 today as one chicken in the 1970s.
The report concludes that “the growth in intensive industrial farming coupled with an increased need for protein and energy-rich animal feed has had a devastating impact on nature.”
In order to counter this significant ecological destruction, the authors suggest we eat more vegetables and whole grains, have a more varied diet, waste less food, moderate both our red and white meat consumption, and consider food that is both free-range and fair trade.
If everyone reduced the amount of animal products they ate to match their required daily nutritional allowances, the land required to farm animals would drop by 13 percent – an area equivalent to 1.5 times the size of the entire European Union.
[H/T: The Guardian]