In the excerpts below, Alexandra Sexton, geographer and postdoctoral researcher at the University of Oxford, offers ‘a more nuanced reading of the promissory and counter-narratives around recent alternative proteins than has sometimes been relayed in public discussions on this topic.’
A team of world-leading scientists have just released the world’s first ever scientific eating plan. They say the current food system dangerously overproduces greenhouse gases, misuses fertiliser, and causes large-scale food wastage and massive land degradation. Their solution is to shift to a diet that transforms this damaging food system. While this sounds like a silver bullet, it doesn’t recognise the enormous differences across the world when it comes to food consumption and production systems.
a group of scientists recently published a paper on the importance of distinguishing—and treating differently—two of the most common greenhouse gases. Carbon dioxide is a long-lived emission and methane a short-lived one. The paper outlined a better way to think about how much, and how long, carbon dioxide and methane gases contribute to greenhouse gas emissions budgets.
FAO has set the record straight regarding not just the level of greenhouse gas that livestock emit (see yesterday’s posting on this blog) but also incorrect information about how much food (crops eatable by humans) livestock consume, the regular reporting of which is commonly used to bolster arguments for the world to go vegetarian.
As the media frenzy caused by a ‘planetary health diet’ proposed in a new report from an EAT-Lancet commission this month continues, it is perhaps timely to recall that the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has set the record straight regarding a flawed comparison of greenhouse gas emissions from the livestock and transport sectors, a statement that is commonly used to support arguments for the world to stop eating meat.
The following sensible comments were recently made by Shenggen Fan, director general of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). Fan is one of the 37 authors of the new report making the media rounds, Food in the Anthropocene: The EAT–Lancet Commission on Healthy Diets from Sustainable Food Systems, and a member of the EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet, Health.
This was the ‘Year of Meat’, when animal flesh became the poster child for health and environmental ‘bads’. As the role of over-consuming meat in greenhouse gas emissions, obesity and cancer took centre stage, even iron man Arnold Schwarzenegger, speaking at the United Nations COP21 climate change conference in Paris this Dec, climbed the bandwagon to advocate eating less meat. Below are summaries of two of the more balanced articles (evidence-based and not unreasonably optimistic about human enterprise and ingenuity) that appeared this year about our love-hate relationship with meat.