Vegans at People's Climate March, Sept. 21. 2014, NYC
Climate and Diet
The Scientific Guide to Livestock Emission Skepticism
a chronological bibliography, annotated with hyperlinks
by moses seenarine
From a climate perspective, meat from cows is in a class by itself. It takes a lot of energy and other natural resources to produce cattle feed, manage the animals’ manure (a major emitter of methane, a potent GHG), get the livestock to market, slaughter the animals, process and package the meat, dispose of the greater part of the carcass that won’t be human food, market the retail cuts, transport them home from the store, refrigerate them until dinner time, and then cook the meat.
Ruth Harrison. Animal Machines. Foreword by Rachel Carson. Pub by V. Stuart. 1964. Reprint 2013. Note: Describes intensive poultry and livestock farming. The book was said to have exposed the whole reality of intensive farming. It was published in seven countries and was the inspiration for the European Convention for the Protection of Animals Kept for Farming Purposes.
http://tinyurl.com/q7n72jz For a bio on Ruth: http://tinyurl.com/nax6yo6
Frances Moore Lappé. Diet for a Small Planet. Ballantine Books. 1971. Note: The book has sold over three million copies and was groundbreaking for arguing that world hunger is not caused by a lack of food but by ineffective food policy. In addition to information on meat production and its impact on hunger, the book features simple rules for a healthy diet and hundreds of meat-free recipes. In the 1981 edition,the author wrote: "With three important exceptions, there is little danger of protein deficiency in a plant food diet. The exceptions are diets very heavily dependent on  fruit or on  some tubers, such as sweet potatoes or cassava, or on  junk food (refined flours, sugars, and fat). Fortunately, relatively few people in the world try to survive on diets in which these foods are virtually the sole source of calories. In all other diets, if people are getting enough calories, they are virtually certain of getting enough protein." http://smallplanet.org/books/diet-small-planet
John Robbins. Diet for a New America. Stillpoint Pub. September 1987. Note: a bestselling book that discusses vegetarianism, the environmental impact of factory farming and animal rights.
Jeremy Rifkin. Beyond Beef: The Rise and Fall of the Cattle Culture. Dutton Adult. 1992. Note: Taking us from ancient Sumer to the Dickensian disassembly lines of Chicago's stockyards, Jeremy Rifkin interweaves anthropology, sociology, economics and ecology in a brilliant and scathing examination and indictment of the cattle culture that has come to shape and warp our world. He cuts through the myth of the cowboy to illumine the international intrigue, political giveaways and sheer avarice that transformed the great American frontier into a huge cattle breeding ground.
Gussow JD (1994). "Ecology and vegetarian consideration: does environmental responsibility demand the elimination of livestock?" Am J Clin Nutr 59 (Suppl), 1110S–1116S. Abstract: "Although the recommendation to avoid animal flesh for environmental reasons has been increasingly advanced, especially in the highly industrialized countries, the ecological implications of such avoidance are seldom carefully examined. If sustainable food systems are to be modeled after natural systems that maintain fertility, both plants and animals would be involved. This paper examines the history of the idea that environmental responsibility is linked to vegetarianism and the destructive effects of present methods of animal raising on farmers, animal welfare, and the environment. Finally, it explores the question of whether vegetarianism is the appropriate response to these problems."
Colin Campbell and Chen Junshi, "Diet and Chronic Degenerative Diseases: Perspectives from China," American Journal of Clinical Nutrition; 59 (suppl): 1153S-61S.30.
K A Johnson and D E Johnson, "Methane emissions from cattle," J ANIM SCI 1995, 73:2483-2492.
J.T. Houghton, ed. Climate Change 1994: Radiative Forcing of Climate Change and an Evaluation of the IPCC IS92 Emission Scenarios, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge, U.K., Cambridge University Press
Robert Costanza, Ralph d’Arge, Rudolf de Groot, Stephen Farber, Monica Grasso, Bruce Hannon, Karin Limburg, Shahid Naeem, Robert V. O’Neill, Jose Paruelo, Robert G. Raskin, Paul Sutton & Marjan van den Belt. "The value of the world’s ecosystem services and natural capital." Nature 387:253-260. Abstract: "The services of ecological systems and the natural capital stocks that produce them are critical to the functioning of the Earth’s life-support system. They contribute to human welfare, both directly and indirectly, and therefore represent part of the total economic value of the planet. We have estimated the current economic value of 17 ecosystem services for 16 biomes, based on published studies and a few original calculations. For the entire biosphere, the value (most of which is outside the market) is estimated to be in the range of US$16–54 trillion (1012) per year, with an average of US$33 trillion per year. Because of the nature of the uncertainties, this must be considered a minimum estimate. Global gross national product total is around US$18 trillion per year."
Steven P Hamburg. "Common questions about climate change." United Nations Environment Programme and World Meteorological Organization.
Havera, SP; Suloway, LB; and Hoffman, JE. "Wetlands in the Midwest with special reference to Illinois." Pages 88-104. in Conservation in highly fragmented landscapes (M.W. Schwartz Ed.). Chapman and Hall, New York, New York. 1997.
Feskanich D, Willett WC, Stampfer MJ, and Colditz GA. "Milk, dietary calcium, and bone fractures in women: a 12-year prospective study." Am J Public Health. 1997 Jun; 87(6):992-7. Conclusions: "These data do not support the hypothesis that higher consumption of milk or other food sources of calcium by adult women protects against hip or forearm fractures."
Robert Goodland. "Environmental sustainability in agriculture: diet matters," Ecological Economics, Volume 23, Issue 3, 5 December 1997, Pages 189–200. Abstract: "There is no agreement that diet matters for environmental sustainability in the agriculture sector. Much current agriculture is unsustainable and worsening; the environmental impact of agriculture degrades natural capital (e.g. loss of topsoil, waste and pollution of water, nutrient loss, extinction of species). Cattle raising is one of the most damaging components of agriculture. Livestock now eat about half of global grain production. There is limited scope for improving food supply and what scope there is will further damage the environment. All means to improve nutrition, especially for the poor, will be needed as population increases. One such means is to improve diets of the rich by eating lower down the food chain. While most people in the world thrive on mainly grain-based diets, carnivory is high in OECD and is increasing in LDCs. In order to reduce food wastage and to improve health and food availability, a food conversion efficiency tax is proposed. The least efficient converters (pork, beef) would be highly taxed; more efficient converters (poultry, eggs, dairy) would be moderately taxed. Most efficient converters (ocean fish) would be taxed lowest. Grain for human food would not be taxed, while coarse grains might be modestly subsidized. Non-food agriculture also would be taxed: highest on tobacco and on starches destined for alcoholic beverages produced from land suitable for food production."
Frank B. Hu and Walter C. Willett. "The Relationship between Consumption of Animal Products (Beef, Pork, Poultry, Eggs, Fish and Dairy Products) and Risk of Chronic Diseases:A Critical Review." Dept. of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health. A Report commissioned by the World Bank‟s Agriculture and Rural Development Department. May 19. Excerpt: "In many situations, the partial displacement of the carbohydrate staple source of energy with animal products may have neutral or beneficial health effect. However, the use of plant source of protein and fat, such as soy products, nuts, and vegetable oils, may provide even greater health benefits and should therefore be considered simultaneously when considering investments in development.” http://tinyurl.com/27pzv2
Fox MA (1999). "The contribution of vegetarianism to ecosystem health." Ecosyst Health 5, 70–74. Note: good article exploring meat economy in Canada.
"Animal agriculture: waste management practices." United States, GAO General Accounting Office. Excerpt: "Nationwide, about 130 times more animal waste is produced than human waste—roughly 5 tons for every U.S. citizen—and some operations with hundreds of thousands of animals produce as much waste as a town or a city. These large volumes of waste threaten surface water and groundwater quality in the event of waste spills, leakage from waste storage facilities, and runoff from fields on which an excessive amount of waste has been applied as fertilizer."
Shahid Naeem, Chair, F.S. Chapin III, Robert Costanza, Paul R. Ehrlich, Frank B. Golley, David U. Hooper, J.H. Lawton, Robert V. ONeill, Harold A. Mooney, Osvaldo E. Sala, Amy J. Symstad, and David Tilman. "A Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning: Maintaining Natural Life Support Processes." Issues in Ecology Number 4 Fall 1999. Excerpt: "From current research, we have identified the following impacts on ecosystem functioning that often result from loss of biodiversity: Plant production may decline as regional and local diversity declines; Ecosystem resistance to environmental perturbations, such as drought, may be lessened as biodiversity is reduced; Ecosystem processes such as soil nitrogen levels, water use, plant productivity, and pest and disease cycles may become more variable as diversity declines. Given its importance to human welfare, the maintenance of ecosystem functioning should be included as an integral part of national and international policies designed to conserve local and global biodiversity.
Renault D and Wallender W W. "Nutritional water productivity and diets Agric. Water Manage," Agricultural Water Management, Volume 45, Issue 3, August 2000, Pages 275–296. Abstract: "The increase in water productivity is likely to play a vital role in coping with the additional requirement for food production and the growth of the uses of water other than in agriculture in the coming century consistent with the shift from productivity per unit land to productivity per unit water, the nutritional productivity of water is calculated as energy, protein, calcium, fat, Vitamin A, iron output per unit water input. Nutritional productivity is estimated in the agricultural context of California for the main crops and food products. In general vegetal products are much more productive than animal products. Four crops emerge as highly productive for one or several key nutrients: potato, groundnut, onion and carrot. A balanced diet based on these four crops requires a consumption of water (evapotranspired) of 1000 l per capita per day, while the current needs for the diet in the USA is 5400 l, and 4000 l for developed countries. On the basis of nutritional productivity analysis it is further demonstrated that a significant part of the additional water resource to produce food for the next century population can be generated by changes in food habits. A reduction of 25% of all animal products in the developed countries’ diet generates approximately 22% of the additional water requirements expected by the year 2025.
Marlow Vesterby and Kenneth S Krupa. "Major Uses of Land in the United States, 1997" USDA Economic Research Service, Statistical Bulletin No. (SB-973) 47 pp. Excerpt: "The United States has a total land area of nearly 2.3 billion acres. Major uses 1997 were forest-use land, 642 million acres (28 percent); grassland pasture and range, 580 million (26 percent); cropland, 445 million (20 percent); miscellaneous other uses, 300 million (13 percent); and special uses, 286 million acres (13 percent)."
Cornelis de Haan, Tjaart Schillhorn van Veen, Brian Brandenburg, Jerome Gauthier, Francois Le Gall, Robin Mearns, and Michel Simeon. "Livestock Development: Implications for Rural Poverty, the Environment, and Global Food Security." Washington, DC: Directions in Development, The World Bank. November 2001. Report 23241. Notes: The livestock strategy published by the World Bank that stated development finance should no longer fund large-scale livestock projects. The Bank used to see for itself a role in supporting increased meat production, but no longer. The Bank will not finance large-scale commercial, grain-fed feedlot systems, including milk, pork, and poultry. The Bank is not happy with the impacts of the "livestock revolution" on environment and equity. The 4 main challenges for the Bank in the livestock sector are poverty reduction, environmental management, food safety, and food security. Critical environmental problems are nutrient loading from industrial systems, and deforestation. A new offshoot in environmental management is animal welfare, about which the Bank will have to start a dialogue with concerned groups. An "increasingly important issue" is the phase-out of poultry batteries and sow crates. The Bank should support subsidies to improve animal welfare.
Johnson DE, Phetteplace HW, Seidl AF. "Methane, Nitrous Oxide and Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Ruminant Livestock Production Systems," In Greenhouse Gases and Animal Agriculture (eds J. Takahashi & B. A. Young). Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Elsevier.
David Pimentel and Marcia Pimentel. "Sustainability of meat-based and plant-based diets and the environment," Am J Clin Nutr September 2003 vol. 78 no. 3. Abstract: "Worldwide, an estimated 2 billion people live primarily on a meat-based diet, while an estimated 4 billion live primarily on a plant-based diet. The US food production system uses about 50% of the total US land area, 80% of the fresh water, and 17% of the fossil energy used in the country. The heavy dependence on fossil energy suggests that the US food system, whether meat-based or plant-based, is not sustainable. The use of land and energy resources devoted to an average meat-based diet compared with a lactoovovegetarian (plant-based) diet is analyzed in this report. In both diets, the daily quantity of calories consumed are kept constant at about 3533 kcal per person. The meat-based food system requires more energy, land, and water resources than the lactoovovegetarian diet. In this limited sense, the lactoovovegetarian diet is more sustainable than the average American meat-based diet."
Stefan Wirsenius. "The Biomass Metabolism of the Food System: A Model-Based Survey of the Global and Regional Turnover of Food Biomass." Journal of Industrial Ecology. Volume 7, Issue 1, pages 47–80, January 2003. Summary: The global appropriation of terrestrial phytomass production by the food system was estimated to be some 13 Pg (1.43 × 1010 short tons) dry matter, or 230 EJ (2.18 × 1017 Btu) gross energy (higher heating value), per year in 1992-1994. Of this phytomass, about 8% ended up in food commodities eaten. Animal food systems accounted for roughly two-thirds of the total appropriation of phytomass, whereas their contribution to the human diet was about 13% (both on a gross energy basis). The ruminant meat systems were found to have a far greater influence than any other subsystem on the food system's biomass metabolism, primarily because of the lower feed-conversion efficiency (calculated as carcass produced by total feed intake, including pasture and other human-inedible feedstuffs) of those systems.
Hites R, et al. "Global Assessment of Organic Contaminants in Farmed Salmon," Science 303(5655): 226-229.
David Pimentel, Bonnie Berger, David Filiberto, Michelle Newton, Benjamin Wolfe, Elizabeth Karabinakis, Steven Clark, Elaine Poon, Elizabeth Abbett and Sudha Nandagopal. "Water Resources: Agricultural and Environmental Issues." Oxford Journals Science & Mathematics BioScience Volume 54, Issue 10Pp. 909-918. Abstract: "The increasing demands placed on the global water supply threaten biodiversity and the supply of water for food production and other vital human needs. Water shortages already exist in many regions, with more than one billion people without adequate drinking water. In addition, 90% of the infectious diseases in developing countries are transmitted from polluted water. Agriculture consumes about 70% of fresh water worldwide; for example, approximately 1000 liters (L) of water are required to produce 1 kilogram (kg) of cereal grain, and 43,000 L to produce 1 kg of beef. New water supplies are likely to result from conservation, recycling, and improved water-use efficiency rather than from large development projects." Water use in livestock production: "The production of animal protein requires significantly more water than the production of plant protein (Pimentel et al. 2004). Although US livestock directly uses only 2% of the total water used in agriculture (Solley et al. 1998), the indirect water inputs for livestock production are substantial because of the water required for forage and grain crops. Each year, a total of 253 million t grain are fed to US livestock, requiring a total of about 25 × 1013 L water (Pimentel et al. 2004). Worldwide grain production specifically for livestock requires nearly three times the amount of grain that is fed to US livestock and three times the amount of water used in the United States to produce grain feed (Pimentel et al. 2004). Animal products vary in the amounts of water required for their production (table 2). For example, producing 1 kg chicken requires 3500 L water, whereas producing 1 kg sheep (fed on 21 kg grain and 30 kg forage) requires approximately 51,000 L water (table 2; USDA 2003, Pimentel et al. 2004). If cattle are raised on open rangeland and not in confined feedlot production, 120 to 200 kg forage are required to produce 1 kg beef. This amount of forage requires 120,000 to 200,000 L water per kg (Pimentel et al. 2004), or a minimum of 200 mm rainfall per year (Pimentel et al. 2004)." Water Pollution: "In recent decades, more US livestock production systems have moved closer to urban areas, causing water and food to be contaminated with manure (BANR 2003). The quantity of livestock manure and other wastes produced each year in the United States is estimated to be 1.5 billion t (Pimentel et al. 2004). According to the Centers for Disease Control, each year more than 76 million Americans are infected and 5000 die as a result of pathogenic Escherichia coli and related foodborne pathogens, which are associated with this kind of contamination (DeWaal et al. 2000)."
Margulis, Sergio. Causes of Deforestation of the Brazilian Rainforest. Washington: World Bank Working Paper No. 22, World Bank Publications. Abstract: "The objective of the report is to show that, in contrast to the 1970s and 1980s when occupation of Brazilian Amazonia was largely induced by government policies and subsidies, recent deforestation in significant parts of the region is basically caused by medium- and large-scale cattle ranching. Following a private rationale, the dynamics of the occupation process gradually became autonomous, as is suggested by the significant increase in deforestation in the 1990s despite the substantial reduction of subsidies and incentives by government. Among the causes of the transformation are technological and managerial changes and the adaptation of cattle ranching to the geo-ecological conditions of eastern Amazonia which allowed for productivity gains and cost reductions. The fact that cattle ranching is viable from the private perspective does not mean that the activity is socially desirable or environmentally sustainable. Private gain needs to be contrasted with the environmental (social) costs associated with cattle ranching and deforestation. From the social perspective, it is legitimate to argue that the private benefits from large-scale cattle ranching are largely exclusive, having contributed little to alleviate social and economic inequalities."
“Risk Assessment Evaluation for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations.” U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – Office of Research and Development. Excerpt: "Methods of animal production in the U.S. have undergone fundamental changes in the last 30 years. The majority of meat, dairy, and poultry production has been concentrated into large facilities. Dairies with more than 2,000 cows and swine operations with more than 10,000 hogs are not unusual. Broiler houses with 50,000 birds are common. With the concentration of animals has come a concomitant concentration of manure production. One animal facility with a large population of animals can easily equal a small city in terms of waste production. Current practices of waste handling often include minimal or no treatment before the wastes are disseminated into the environment."
William O. Reece (2004). Functional Anatomy and Physiology of Domestic Animals. Wiley, 2004
R Lal. "Carbon emission from farm operations." Environment International. Volume 30, Issue 7, September 2004, Pages 981–990. Abstract: This manuscript is a synthesis of the available information on energy use in farm operations, and its conversion into carbon equivalent (CE). A principal advantage of expressing energy use in terms of carbon (C) emission as kg CE lies in its direct relation to the rate of enrichment of atmospheric concentration of CO2. Synthesis of the data shows that estimates of emissions in kg CE/ha are 2–20 for different tillage operations, 1–1.4 for spraying chemicals, 2–4 for drilling or seeding and 6–12 for combine harvesting. Similarly, estimates of C emissions in kg CE/kg for different fertilizer nutrients are 0.9–1.8 for N, 0.1–0.3 for P2O5, 0.1–0.2 for K20 and 0.03–0.23 for lime. Estimates of C emission in kg CE/kg of active ingredient (a.i.) of different pesticides are 6.3 for herbicides, 5.1 for insecticides and 3.9 for fungicides. Irrigation, lifting water from deep wells and using sprinkling systems, emits 129±98 kg CE for applying 25 cm of water and 258±195 for 50 cm of water. Emission for different tillage methods are 35.3 kg CE/ha for conventional till, 7.9 kg CE/ha for chisel till or minimum till, and 5.8 kg CE/ha for no-till method of seedbed preparation. In view of the high C costs of major inputs, sustainable management of agricultural ecosystems implies that an output/input ratio, expressed either as gross or net output of C, must be >1 and has an increasing trend over time.
UNEP. "Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005). Ecosystems and human well-being: synthesis." Washington, DC: Island Press. Note: “Livestock impacts on ecosystem goods and services are largely negative, through impacts such as deforestation, nutrient overloading, greenhouse gas emissions, nutrient depletion of grazing areas, dryland degradation from overgrazing, dust formation, and bush encroachment.”
J. M. Slingo, A. J. Challinor, B. J. Hoskins, and T. R. Wheeler, “Introduction: food crops in a changing climate,” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, vol. 360, no. 1463, pp. 1983–1989, 2005. Introduction: "Recent advances in understanding the sensitivity of crops to weather, climate and the levels of particular gases in the atmosphere indicate that the impact of these factors on crop yields and quality may be more severe than previously thought. There is increasing information on the importance to crop yields of extremes of temperature and rainfall at key stages of crop development. Agriculture will itself impact on the climate system and a greater understanding of these feedbacks is needed."
FAO. General situation of world fish stocks. Note: Of the 600 marine fish stocks monitored by FAO, 3% are underexploited, 20% are moderately exploited, 52% are fully exploited, 17% are overexploited, 7% are depleted, and 1% are recovering from depletion.
Peter H. Tyedmers, Reg Watson, and Daniel Pauly, “Fueling Global Fishing Fleets,” Ambio 34 no. 8 (2005): 635–38. Excerpt: In 2000, 80 million tons of fish required the burning of 13 billion gallons of fuel and the release of approximately 134 million tons of carbon dioxide. This means that global fisheries used up to 12.5 times the amount of fuel energy that they provided as edible-protein energy.
"A Radical Approach to Kyoto," Alan Calverd, Physics World. Carbon dioxide from livestock respiration accounts for 21 percent of anthropogenic GHGs worldwide, according to an estimate by British physicist Calverd, about 8,769 million tons.
Eshel G, Martin P. “Diet, energy, and global warming.” Earth Interactions, vol 10:1–17. 2006. Abstract: "The energy consumption of animal- and plant-based diets and, more broadly, the range of energetic planetary footprints spanned by reasonable dietary choices are compared. It is demonstrated that the greenhouse gas emissions of various diets vary by as much as the difference between owning an average sedan versus a sport-utility vehicle under typical driving conditions. The authors conclude with a brief review of the safety of plant-based diets, and find no reasons for concern."
Harry Aiking, Joop de Boer, and Johan Vereijken, eds., Sustainable Protein Production and Consumption: Pigs or Peas? Environment & Policy
Volume 45. 2006.
Livestock's Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options. Steinfeld, H., Gerber P., Wassenaar, T., Castel, V., Rosales, M. & Haan, C., Rome: Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. 2006. Note: Livestock’s Long Shadow state that 18 percent of Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG) is attributable to livestock production; it cites 2002 FAO statistics as the key source for its 18-percent estimate, but from 2002 to 2009, the tonnage of livestock products world wide increased by 12 percent, or 2,560 million tons of CO2 or 4.0 percent of GHG emissions
Jacobson, Michael F. Six Arguments for a Greener Diet: How a More Plant-based Diet Could save Your Health and the Environment. Washington, DC: Center for Science in the Public Interest
L. Baroni, L. Cenci, M. Tettamanti, and M. Berati, “Evaluating the environmental impact of various dietary patterns combined with different food production systems,” European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol. 61, no. 2, pp. 279–286, 2007. Notes: The diets they examined were classified into seven types with normal classifying meat consumption: “normal” with conventional farming; “normal” with organic farming; vegetarian with conventional; vegetarian with organic; vegan with conventional; vegan with organic; and “normal” Italian with conventional farming. From this analysis it was discovered that the vegan diet had the lowest impact on the environment. In assessing the impact of single food items, beef had the largest impact, followed by fish, cheese, and milk. The sources of stress were from waste produced that could not be used as fertiliser, land use, fossil fuel use and water use. The use of water for irrigating lands and crops to feed cattle was noted as an inefficient use of natural resources and unsustainable to feed future generations. It was also noted that land clearing in developing countries is often used for grazing and crop feeds for animals consumed in western countries rather than the crops being used to feed local populations.
A. J. McMichael, J. W. Powles, C. D. Butler, and R. Uauy, “Food, livestock production, energy, climate change, and health,” The Lancet, vol. 370, no. 9594, pp. 1253–1263, 2007. Abstract: "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 from this production sector, both the average worldwide consumption level of animal products and the intensity of emissions from livestock production must be reduced. An international contraction and convergence strategy offers a feasible route to such a goal."
Galloway, J.N., et al. "International trade in meat: The tip of the pork chop," Ambio 36(8): 622-629.
Pimentel D and Pimentel M H. 2007. Food, Energy, and Society. 3rd edn. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. Note: study estimate that an average of 25 kcal of fossil energy is required to produce 1 kcal of animal protein, which is ten times greater than in the case of plant protein.
Koike S, Krapac IG, Oliver HD, Yannarell AC, Chee-Sanford JC, Aminov RI, Mackie RI. "Monitoring and Source Tracking of Tetracycline Resistance Genes in Lagoons and Groundwater Adjacent to Swine Production Facilities over a 3-Year Period," Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 73(15):4813-23.
Keith R. Lassey. "Livestock methane emission: From the individual grazing animal through national inventories to the global methane cycle." Agricultural and Forest Meteorology. Volume 142, Issues 2–4, 12 February 2007, Pages 120–132. Abstract: Methane is a potent greenhouse gas whose atmospheric abundance has grown 2.5-fold over three centuries, due in large part to agricultural expansion. The farming of ruminant livestock, which generate and emit methane during digestion (‘enteric fermentation’), is a leading contributor to this growth.
Allison, Richard. “Organic chicken production criticised for leaving a larger carbon footprint.” Poultry World. Vol. 161 Issue 3, p8. Abstract: "The article reports on the environmental impact of organic chicken production based on a study conducted by researchers at Manchester Business School in England and sponsored by the British Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). Lead researcher professor Ken Green stated that carbon content is larger among organic chicken and milk. The Soil Association stressed that organic farming is 15% more energy efficient. The report concluded that organic food production is more water intensive."
Y. T. Prairie and C. M. Duarte. "Direct and indirect metabolic CO2 release by humanity." Biogeosciences, 4, 215–217, 2007. Abstract: "The direct CO2 released by respiration of humans and domesticated animals, as well as CO2 derived from the decomposition of their resulting wastes was calculated in order to ascertain the direct and indirect metabolic contribution of humanity to CO2 release. Human respiration was estimated to release 0.6GtCyear-1 and that of their associated domestic animals was estimated to release 1.5 GtCyear-1, to which an indirect release of 1.0 GtCyear-1, derived from decomposition of the organic waste and garbage produced by humans and domestic animals, must be added. These combined direct and indirect metabolic sources, estimated at 3.1 GtCyear-1, have increased 7 fold since pre-industrial times and are predicted to continue to rise over the 21st century."
Ogino A, Orito H, Shimada K, Hirooka H (2007) "Evaluating environmental impacts of the Japanese beef cow–calf system by the life cycle assessment method." Animal Science Journal. Volume 78, Issue 4, pages 424–432, August 2007. Abstract: The present results showed that the total contributions of one beef calf throughout its life cycle to global warming, acidification, eutrophication and energy consumption were 4550 kg of CO2 equivalents, 40.1 kg of SO2 equivalents, 7.0 kg of phosphate (PO4) equivalents and 16.1 GJ, respectively.
Anthony J McMichael, John W Powles, Colin D Butler, Ricardo Uauy. "Food, livestock production, energy, climate change, and health." The Lancet, Volume 370, Issue 9594, 6–12 October 2007, Pages 1253–1263. Summary: "Food provides energy and nutrients, but its acquisition requires energy expenditure. In post-hunter-gatherer societies, extra-somatic energy has greatly expanded and intensified the catching, gathering, and production of food. Modern relations between energy, food, and health are very complex, raising serious, high-level policy challenges. Together with persistent widespread under-nutrition, over-nutrition (and sedentarism) is causing obesity and associated serious health consequences. 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 from this production sector, both the average worldwide consumption level of animal products and the intensity of emissions from livestock production must be reduced. An international contraction and convergence strategy offers a feasible route to such a goal. The current global average meat consumption is 100 g per person per day, with about a ten-fold variation between high-consuming and low-consuming populations. 90 g per day is proposed as a working global target, shared more evenly, with not more than 50 g per day coming from red meat from ruminants (ie, cattle, sheep, goats, and other digastric grazers)."
Searchinger, T., Heimlich, R., Houghton, R.A., Dong, F., Elobeid, A., Fabiosa, J., Tokgoz, S., Hayes, D., and Yu, T.-H. "Greenhouse gases through emissions from use of U.S. croplands for biofuels increases land-use change." Science 319: 1238-1240. Excerpt: “If… crops displace forest or grassland, the carbon released from soils and vegetation, plus lost future sequestration, generates carbon debt, which counts against the carbon the crops absorb."
Christopher L. Weber * and H. Scott Matthews. "Food-Miles and the Relative Climate Impacts of Food Choices in the United States," Environ. Sci. Technol., 2008, 42 (10), pp 3508–3513. Abstract: "Despite significant recent public concern and media attention to the environmental impacts of food, few studies in the United States have systematically compared the life-cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with food production against long-distance distribution, aka “food-miles.” We find that although food is transported long distances in general (1640 km delivery and 6760 km life-cycle supply chain on average) the GHG emissions associated with food are dominated by the production phase, contributing 83% of the average U.S. household’s 8.1 t CO2e/yr footprint for food consumption. Transportation as a whole represents only 11% of life-cycle GHG emissions, and final delivery from producer to retail contributes only 4%. Different food groups exhibit a large range in GHG-intensity; on average, red meat is around 150% more GHG-intensive than chicken or fish. Thus, we suggest that dietary shift can be a more effective means of lowering an average household’s food-related climate footprint than “buying local.” Shifting less than one day per week’s worth of calories from red meat and dairy products to chicken, fish, eggs, or a vegetable-based diet achieves more GHG reduction than buying all locally sourced food."
Clark, Brett and Rebecca Clausen. "The Oceanic Crisis: Capitalism and the Degradation of Marine Ecosystems." Monthly Review 3(2008):91
Tara Garnett. "Cooking up a storm: Food, greenhouse gas emissions and our changing climate." Food Climate Research Network, Center for Environmental Strategy, University of Surrey. September 2008. Abstract: "Efforts to encourage us voluntarily to change will not achieve what is needed in the time available. Regulatory and fiscal measures that change the context within which we consume are vital. There are potential synergies between the goals of reducing food GHG emissions and improving our nutritional health, and policies should be developed to exploit these."
N. Pelletier. "Environmental performance in the US broiler poultry sector: Life cycle energy use and greenhouse gas, ozone depleting, acidifying and eutrophying emissions," Agricultural Systems. Volume 98, Issue 2, Pages 67–73. Abstract: "Most published research concerning the environmental impacts of broiler poultry production is limited to assessments of on-farm gaseous and nutrient emissions. Here, ISO-compliant Life Cycle Assessment was used to predict the broader, macro-scale environmental impacts of the material and energy inputs and emissions along the US broiler supply chain. It was found that feed provision accounts for 80% of supply chain energy use, 82% of greenhouse gas emissions, 98% of ozone depleting emissions, 96% of acidifying emissions and 97% of eutrophying emissions associated with the cradle-to-farm gate production of broiler poultry. On-farm inputs and emissions, largely related to heating and ventilation contribute on average only 9% of these impacts. These results underscore the fallacy of “landless farming” and the importance of full supply-chain environmental management for improving sustainability in the US poultry industry."
"Shun meat, says UN climate chief." People should consider eating less meat as a way of combating global warming, says the UN's top climate scientist.
Rajendra Pachauri, who chairs the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). "The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has estimated that direct emissions from meat production account for about 18% of the world's total greenhouse gas emissions," he told BBC. "So I want to highlight the fact that among options for mitigating climate change, changing diets is something one should consider."
FOEI. "What's feeding our food? The environmental and social impacts of the livestock sector." Friends of the Earth International. December 2008. Note: “As much as 97% of the soymeal produced worldwide is used for animal feed. Soy production in Latin America has more than doubled in the last 15 years. Soy cultivation itself uses fertilizers and pesticides that pollute the soil and ground water. Genetically modified (GM) soy requires an even more intensive chemical regime. Almost all soy grown in Argentina and Paraguay is GM.”
Maurice E. Pitesky, Kimberly R. Stackhouse, and Frank M. Mitloehner. "Chapter 1 – Clearing the Air: Livestock's Contribution to Climate Change." Advances in Agronomy. Volume 103, 2009, Pages 1–40. Notes: This study is critical of FAO 2006 and suggests much lower numbers. Abstract: "Recent estimates by the United States Environmental Protection Agency [EPA, Hockstad, Weitz (2009). Inventory of U.S. greenhouse gases and sinks: 1990–2007. Environmental Protection Agency] and the California Energy Commission [CEC—California Energy Commission (2005). Inventory of California Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990 to 2002 Update] on the impacts of livestock on climate change in the United States and California have arrived at much different GHG estimates associated with direct livestock emissions (enteric fermentation and manure), totaling at less than 3% of total anthropogenic GHG and much smaller indirect emissions compared to the global assessment. Part of the difference of the global versus national predictions is due to the significant weight that has been assigned to the category of “land-use change” patterns related to livestock production (mainly deforestation). Furthermore, LLS attempts a life cycle assessment for global livestock production but does not use an equally holistic approach for its transportation prediction numbers. The primary focus of the present paper is to examine the relative contributions of livestock to climate change at different geographical and production scales."
Lam TK, Cross AJ, Consonni D, Randi G, Bagnardi V, Bertazzi PA, Caporaso NE, Sinha R, Subar AF, Landi MT. "Intakes of Red Meat, Processed Meat, and Meat Mutagens Increase Lung Cancer Risk," Cancer Res. 69(3):932-9. Abstract: "In summary, red meat, processed meat, and meat-mutagens were independently associated with increased risk of lung cancer."
C A McAlpine, A Etter, P M Fearnside, L. Seabrook, and W F Laurance. "Increasing world consumption of beef as a driver of regional and global change: A call for policy action based on evidence from Queensland (Australia), Colombia and Brazil." Global Environmental Change Volume 19, Issue 1, February 2009, Pages 21–33. Abstract: While the global community is seeking to reduce fossil fuel consumption, a parallel but equally important issue is the environmental impacts of increased world consumption of beef. We provide a comparative analysis and synthesis of the expansion of beef cattle production and its regional and global environmental impacts for Queensland (Australia), Colombia and Brazil. Evidence assembled indicates that rising beef consumption is a major driver of regional and global change, and warrants greater policy attention. We propose four policy imperatives to help mitigate escalating environmental impacts of beef: stop subsidising beef production and promoting beef consumption; control future expansion of soybeans and extensive grazing; protect and restore regrowth forests in grazing lands; and allocate resources to less environmentally damaging alternative land uses.
Panel titled “Food for Thought” at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting. February 12-16.
- Ulf Sonesson, of the Swedish Institute for Food and Biotechnology, reported that roughly half of the GHG emissions due to human diets come from meat even though cows, pigs and chicken together account for only about 14 percent of what people eat. Every kg of cow served is the global-warming equivalent to spewing 19 kilograms of carbon dioxide. It takes about 4.25 kg of CO2 to produce and fry each kg of pig. At the other end of the spectrum are veggies. The climate costs associated with growing, marketing, peeling and boiling up a kg of potatoes, by contrast, is just 280 grams.
- Nathan Pelletier of Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, says grass-fed cattle have a 50 percent higher carbon footprint. There is a high grass trampling rate so the actual land area that you need to maintain magnifies that GHG difference. Currently, cows accounts for only about 30 percent of the industrial world’s meat consumption, but contributes 78 percent meat’s GHG emissions there. Pigs, at 38 percent of consumption, contributes 14 percent of this meat's GHGs. Another 32 percent of the meat consumed worldwide comes from chicken, but getting these birds from farm to fork contributes 8 percent of meat’s carbon footprint in the developed countries. If we swap half of that protein now supplied by meat with soy by 2050, “you could expect projected emissions to decrease on the order of 70 percent.” Take the next big step — eliminating all meat in favor of soy — should drop the protein-associated carbon footprint of Western diets a whopping 96 percent.
- Peter Tyedmers of Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, focused on GHG assessments of fish production. For every ton of fish harvested, there is a substantial GHG cost measured in terms of the amount of carbon dioxide that would produce equivalent warming. For production of Norwegian fish it’s 1,750 kilograms of CO2 equivalents, 2,250 kg for Chilean salmon, 2,500 kg for the Canadian fish, and 3,300 kg for Scottish farmed stock. Data from another assessment, this one in wild fish, showed that fuel use associated with harvesting gear could greatly impact GHG emissions associated with salmon. Purse seining contributed 180 kilograms of CO2 equivalent to the carbon footprint associated with a ton of salmon, gillnetting about 380 kg, and trolling a whopping 1,700 kg.
- Astrid Scholz, a food-production economist at Ecotrust in Portland, Ore., is part of an international consortium that is calculating GHG costs associated with getting salmon to market, independent of how they were raised. Three-quarters of the world’s harvested salmon comes from three major markets: the Northeast Pacific (including Alaska and British Columbia), the Northeast Atlantic (mostly Norway and Scotland) and Chile. It turns out, her team finds, that the big climate costs for these fish trace to how they reach their designated market — by air, by container ships, or by truck. And what determines the transport choice in most cases is whether the fish must arrive fresh (i.e. almost immediately), or whether it can arrive frozen at any point over many days or weeks. There are 3 kg CO2 costs associated with each kg of frozen salmon brought to North America from Chile, and 5.5 times that GHG cost for fresh Chilean salmon flown into the Northern Hemisphere. Meanwhile, British Columbia salmon can be trucked in fresh or frozen for 3 kg of CO2 per kg of fish.
Elke Stehfest, Lex Bouwman, Detlef P. van Vuuren, Michel G. J. den Elzen, Bas Eickhout, Pavel Kabat. "Climate benefits of changing diet," Climatic Change (2009) 95:83–102. Researchers from the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency published their projections of the greenhouse gas consequences if humanity came to eat less meat, no meat, or no animal products at all. The researchers predicted that universal veganism would reduce agriculture-related carbon emissions by 17 percent, methane emissions by 24 percent, and nitrous oxide emissions by 21 percent by 2050. Universal vegetarianism would result in similarly impressive reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. What’s more, the Dutch researchers found that worldwide vegetarianism or veganism would achieve these gains at a much lower cost than a purely energy-focused intervention involving carbon taxes and renewable energy technology. The upshot: Universal eschewal of meat wouldn’t single-handedly stave off global warming, but it would go a long way toward mitigating climate change. Currently, grazing land for ruminants—cows and their kin—accounts for a staggering 26 percent of the world’s ice-free land surface. The Dutch scientists predict that 2.7 billion hectares (about 10.4 million square miles) of that grazing land would be freed up by global vegetarianism, along with 100 million hectares (about 386,000 square miles) of land that’s currently used to grow crops for livestock.
Lisbeth Mogensen, John E. Hermansen, Niels Halberg, and Randi Dalgaard. "Chapter 5: Life Cycle Assessment across the Food Supply Chain," in Sustainability in the Food Industry, Cheryl J. Baldwin (Editor). March 2009, Wiley-Blackwell. Note: "While the total European consumption of meat and dairy products only constitutes 6.1% of the economic value of the total final consumption in Europe, meat and dairy products contribute from 14 to 35% to the impact categories like acidification, eutrophication, global warming, and nature occupation."
Shindell, D., and G. Faluvegi, 2009: Climate response to regional radiative forcing during the twentieth century. Nature Geosci., 2, 294-300. Abstract: "Our reconstructions broadly agree with historical emissions estimates, and can explain the differences between observed changes in Arctic temperatures and expectations from non-aerosol forcings plus unforced variability. We conclude that decreasing concentrations of sulphate aerosols and increasing concentrations of black carbon have substantially contributed to rapid Arctic warming during the past three decades."
Rastogi, Nina Shen. “The Kindest Cut: Which Meat Harms Our Planet the Least?” Slate .28 http://tinyurl.com/crgvz9e
Marlow HJ, Hayes WK, Soret S, Carter RL, Schwab ER, Sabate J. “Diet and the environment: does what you eat matter?” Am J Clin Nutr 2009; 89(suppl):1699S–1703S. Abstract. Food demand influences agricultural production. Modern agricultural practices have resulted in polluted soil, air, and water; eroded soil; dependence on imported oil; and loss of biodiversity. The goal of this research was to compare the environmental effect of a vegetarian and nonvegetarian diet in California in terms of agricultural production inputs, including pesticides and fertilizers, water, and energy used to produce commodities. The working assumption was that a greater number and amount of inputs were associated with a greater environmental effect. The literature supported this notion. To accomplish this goal, dietary preferences were quantified with the Adventist Health Study, and California state agricultural data were collected and applied to state commodity production statistics. These data were used to calculate different dietary consumption patterns and indexes to compare the environmental effect associated with dietary preference. Results show that, for the combined differential production of 11 food items for which consumption differs among vegetarians and nonvegetarians, the nonvegetarian diet required 2.9 times more water, 2.5 times more primary energy, 13 times more fertilizer, and 1.4 times more pesticides than did the vegetarian diet. The greatest contribution to the differences came from the consumption of beef in the diet. We found that a nonvegetarian diet exacts a higher cost on the environment relative to a vegetarian diet. From an environmental perspective, what a person chooses to eat makes a difference.
Greenpeace International. "Slaughtering the Amazon." Notes: according to the Brazilian government: ‘Cattle are responsible for about 80% of all deforestation’ in the Amazon region. In recent years, on average one hectare of Amazon rainforest has been lost to cattle ranchers every 18 seconds. The cattle sector in the Brazilian Amazon is responsible for 14% of the world’s annual deforestation.This makes it the world’s largest driver of deforestation, responsible for more forest loss than the total deforestation in any country outside Brazil except Indonesia.
Elke Stehfest, Lex Bouwman, Detlef P. van Vuuren, Michel G. J. den Elzen, Bas Eickhout, and Pavel Kabat. "Climate benefits of changing diet." Climatic Change. July 2009, Volume 95, Issue 1-2, pp 83-102. Abstract: Climate change mitigation policies tend to focus on the energy sector, while the livestock sector receives surprisingly little attention, despite the fact that it accounts for 18% of the greenhouse gas emissions and for 80% of total anthropogenic land use. From a dietary perspective, new insights in the adverse health effects of beef and pork have lead to a revision of meat consumption recommendations. Here, we explored the potential impact of dietary changes on achieving ambitious climate stabilization levels. By using an integrated assessment model, we found a global food transition to less meat, or even a complete switch to plant-based protein food to have a dramatic effect on land use. Up to 2,700 Mha of pasture and 100 Mha of cropland could be abandoned, resulting in a large carbon uptake from regrowing vegetation. Additionally, methane and nitrous oxide emission would be reduced substantially. A global transition to a low meat-diet as recommended for health reasons would reduce the mitigation costs to achieve a 450 ppm CO2-eq. stabilisation target by about 50% in 2050 compared to the reference case. Dietary changes could therefore not only create substantial benefits for human health and global land use, but can also play an important role in future climate change mitigation policies.
Craig WJ, Mangels AR. Position of the American Dietetic Association: “Vegetarian diets.” J Am Diet Assoc 2009;109:1266–82. Abstract: "It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes. A vegetarian diet is defined as one that does not include meat (including fowl) or seafood, or products containing those foods."
Murray Wardrop. "Lord Stern: 'People should give up eating meat to halt climate change'" Telegraph. October 27th, 2009. Note: Lord Stern, author of the 2006 Stern Review on the cost of tackling global warming, and a former chief economist of the World Bank, believes that the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen should have called for an increase in the price of meat and other foods that contribute to climate change.
Robert Goodland and Jeff Anhang. “Livestock and Climate Change: What if the key actors in climate change are... cows, pigs, and chickens?” World Watch Institute. November/December 2009. The FAO figure was woefully underestimated. Livestock and their byproducts actually account for at least 32.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year, or 51 percent of annual worldwide GHG emissions: http://www.worldwatch.org/node/6294
Uncounted, Overlooked, and Misallocated Livestock-related GHG Emissions
|Uncounted in current GHG Inventories:|
|1. Overlooked respiration by livestock||8.7||13.7|
|2. Overlooked land use||>2.6||>4.2|
|3. Undercounted methane||5.0||7.9|
|4. Other four categories||>5.5||>8.7|
- increase in livestock products,
- older statistics,
- difference in efficiency
|Misallocated in current GHG inventories:|
|5. Three categories||>3.0||>4.7|
- omits some countries,
- omits farmed fish,
- omits land-based marine industries
- omits fluorocarbons, cooking,
- disposal of livestock waste and byproducts,
medical treatment for ilnessess
Total GHGs attributable
to livestock products
Sources and Resources for “Livestock and Climate Change:
In 2011, Herrero et al. published a critical commentary in a livestock industry magazine, "Livestock and greenhouse gas emissions: The importance of getting the numbers right, " Anim. Feed Sci. Technol. 166–167, 779–782. The 3-page commentary was signed by 10 people, including the lead author and a co-author of Livestock Long Shadow (LLS). At the end, they credited Goodland and Anhang for correctly pointing out that LLS omitted emissions related to preparation of animal products, and that estimates for land use change, transport and processing are deliberately conservative. But they objected to Anhang and Goodland's inclusion of livestock respiration, land use changes, abd methane time horizon. In the abstract, they concluded, "Global estimates of livestock GHG emissions are most reliable when they are generated by internationally recognized scientific panels with expertise across a range of disciplines and with no preconceived bias to particular outcomes." Interestingly, these animal agriculture researchers did not state their diet yet they all claimed no conflict of interest at the end of their commentary. http://tinyurl.com/kqv5lkf
Anhang and Goodland responded with a detailed 10-page response that stated, "We are both longstanding environmental assessment (EA) specialists. Conversely, not a single author of Livestock’s Long Shadow is an EA specialist... our analysis has been cited on the World Bank's official external website (World Bank, 2011)... and UNESCO (2010), another specialized agency of the UN, reported: 'Goodland and Anhang explained... what may be a large-scale paradigm shift in the approaches to mitigating climate change.'" http://tinyurl.com/phkbltf
Goodland. 2010. "A Case for Reducing Global Warming Quickly" http://tinyurl.com/q4mtxl4
In 2009, another critic of Anhang and Goodland estimated by that a "conservative reanalysis of their claims indicates that animal agriculture contributes a minimum of 30.4% of worldwide greenhouse gases in CO2 equivalents." http://tinyurl.com/n258zyh
The World Bank and UNDP are both calling for a shift in diet, and there are no peer-reviewed studies critical of the 51% figure.
Thornton PK, van de Steeg J, Notenbaert A, Herrero M. 2009. "The impacts of climate change on livestock and livestock systems in developing countries: a review of what we know and what we need to know." Agric. Syst. 101:113–27
Ferrucci LM, Cross AJ, Graubard BI, Brinton LA, McCarty CA, Ziegler RG, Ma X, Mayne ST, Sinha R. "Intake of Meat, Meat Mutagens, and Iron and the Risk of Breast cancer in the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial." Br J Cancer. 101 (1):178-84. Conclusion: "In this prospective study, red meat, MeIQx, and dietary iron elevated the risk of invasive breast cancer"
Rashmi Sinha; Amanda J. Cross; Barry I. Graubard; Michael F. Leitzmann; Arthur Schatzkin. "Meat Intake and Mortality: A Prospective Study of Over Half a Million People." Arch Intern Med.169(6):562-571 Conclusion: "Red and processed meat intakes were associated with modest increases in total mortality, cancer mortality, and cardiovascular disease mortality."
Chee-Sanford JC, Mackie RI, Koike S, Krapac IG, Lin YF, Yannarell AC, Maxwell S, Aminov RI. "Fate and Transport of Antibiotic Residues and Antibiotic Resistance Genes Following Land Application of Manure Waste," J Environ Qual. Apr 27;38 (3):1086-108.
Wang Y, Beydoun MA. "Meat consumption is associated with obesity and central obesity among US adults." Int J Obes (Lond). 2009 Jun;33(6):621-8. Abstract: "These US national cross-sectional data show positive associations between MC and risk for obesity and central obesity."
Foer, Jonathan Safran. Eating Animals. New York: Little, Brown and Company. Explores the many fictions we use to justify our eating habits-from folklore to pop culture to family traditions and national myth-and how such tales can lull us into a brutal forgetting.
J. Davis, U. Sonesson, D. U. Baumgartner, and T. Nemecek, “Environmental impact of four meals with different protein sources: case studies in Spain and Sweden,” Food Research International, vol. 43, no. 7, pp. 1874–1884, 2010. Abstract: "The results of this analysis demonstrate that it is environmentally favourable to replace meat with peas. In particular, the addition of more legumes to human nutrition potentially aids in the reduction of global warming, eutrophication, acidification, and land use."
Wirsenius S, Hedenus F (2010) Policy strategies for a sustainable food system: options for protecting the climate. In: Webster J, D’Silva J (eds) The crisis in meat and dairy consumption: developing a sustainable and greener future. London: Earthscan. Note: "Demand-moderating policies are vital because of the overall low potential for reducing agricultural GHG emissions by technological means, and because of the inherently large land requirements of ruminant meat (beef and lamb) production."
Thornton PK. "Livestock production: recent trends, future prospects." Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 365 (1554): 2853 – 2867.
Thornton PK, Gerber P. "Climate change and the growth of the live-stock sector in developing countries." Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change 15(2): 169 – 184.
Thornton P, Herrero M. 2010. "The inter-linkages between rapid growth in livestock production, climate change, and the impacts on water resources, land use, and deforestation." Washington, DC: World Development Report, Development and Climate Change Background Paper, World Bank. Livestock systems globally are changing rapidly in response to a variety of drivers. Human population growth, rapid urbanization, and growing incomes will lead to substantial increases in the demand for livestock products in the coming decades. Meeting this increased demand may put substantial pressure on a wide range of natural resources such as land and water. Together with climate change and increasing climate variability, these drivers of change add up to a formidable set of development challenges for developed as well as developing countries. The paper discusses the linkages between the burgeoning demand for livestock products, the subsequent growth in livestock production, and the impacts that this may have on natural resources, as well as how these may both affect, and be affected by, climate change in the coming decades.
Alali WQ, Thakur S, Berghaus RD, Martin MP. "Prevalence and Distribution of Salmonella in Organic and Conventional Broiler Poultry Farms. Foodborne Pathogens and Disease," 7 (11):1363-71.
Furuse Y, Suzuki A, Oshitani H (2010). "Origin of measles virus: divergence from rinderpest virus between the 11th and 12th centuries". Virol. J. 7: 52.
Ferrucci LM, Sinha R, Ward MH, Graubard BI, Hollenbeck AR, Kilfoy BA, Schatzkin A, Michaud DS, Cross AJ. "Meat and Components of Meat and the Risk of Bladder Cancer in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study," Cancer. 15;116(18):4345-53. Conclusions: "These findings provided modest support for an increased risk of bladder cancer with total dietary nitrite and nitrate plus nitrite from processed meat. Results also suggested a positive association between red meat and PhIP and bladder carcinogenesis."
Miller, Dale. “Peeling Away the Layers of Pork’s Carbon Footprint.” National Hog Farmer 55.3: (2010), 8-10.
Cross AJ, Ferrucci LM, Risch A, Graubard BI, Ward MH, Park Y, Hollenbeck AR, Schatzkin A, Sinha R. "A large prospective study of meat consumption and colorectal cancer risk: an investigation of potential mechanisms underlying this association." Cancer Res. 2010 Mar 15;70 (6): 2406-14. Abstract: "we found a positive association for red and processed meat intake and colorectal cancer; heme iron, nitrate/nitrite, and heterocyclic amines from meat may explain these associations."
Hackmann. T. J., and Spain, J. N. 2010."Ruminant ecology and evolution: Perspectives useful to livestock research and production". Journal of Dairy Science, 93:1320-1334. Abstract: "The article reviews ruminant ecology and evolution and shows insights they offer into livestock research. The first ruminants evolved about 50 million years ago and were small (<5 kg) forest-dwelling omnivores. Today there are almost 200 living ruminant species in 6 families. Wild ruminants number about 75 million, range from about 2 to more than 800 kg, and generally prefer at least some browse in their diets. Nine species have been domesticated within the last 10,000 yr. Their combined population currently numbers 3.6 billion."
A. Nardone, B. Ronchi, N. Lacetera, M.S. Ranieri, and U. Bernabucci. "Effects of climate changes on animal production and sustainability of livestock systems." Livestock Science, Volume 130, Issues 1–3, May 2010, Pages 57–69. 10th World Conference on Animal Production (WCAP). Abstract: "The effects of climate change are controversial. This paper reviews the effects of climate change on livestock following the theory of global warming. Although, the effects of global warming will not be adverse everywhere, a relevant increase of drought is expected across the world affecting forage and crop production. Hot environment impairs production (growth, meat and milk yield and quality, egg yield, weight, and quality) and reproductive performance, metabolic and health status, and immune response. The process of desertification will reduce the carrying capacity of rangelands and the buffering ability of agro-pastoral and pastoral systems. Other systems, such as mixed systems and industrial or landless livestock systems, could encounter several risk factors mainly due to the variability of grain availability and cost, and low adaptability of animal genotypes.
Pelletier N, Pirog R, Rebecca Rasmussen R. “Comparative life cycle environmental impacts of three beef production strategies in the Upper Midwestern United States.” Agricultural Systems 103: 380–389. Abstract: Three measures of resource use efficiency were applied and indicated that beef production, whether feedlot or pasture-based, generates lower edible resource returns on material/energy investment relative to other food production strategies.
Rastogi, Nina. “New Studies, New Questions: Three recent reports make sustainable consumption more complicated.” Slate. April 6
Groth E 3rd. "Ranking the contributions of commercial fish and shellfish varieties to mercury exposure in the United States: implications for risk communication." Environ Res. 2010 Apr;110(3):226-36. Abstract: "Substantial improvement in risk communication about mercury in fish and seafood is needed; in particular, several population subsets need better guidance to base their seafood choices more explicitly on mercury content."
Nguyen TLT, Hermansen JE, Mogensen L (2010) "Environmental consequences of different beef production systems in the EU." Journal of Cleaner Production. Volume 18, Issue 8, May 2010, Pages 756–766. Abstract: "According to the results of the analysis, the contributions from the production of 1 kg beef meat (slaughter weight) to global warming, acidification, eutrophication, land use and non-renewable energy use were lower for beef from dairy calves than from suckler herds (16.0–19.9 versus 27.3 kg CO2e, 101–173 versus 210 g SO2e, 622–1140 versus 1651 g NO3e, 16.5–22.7 versus 42.9 m2year, and 41.3–48.2 versus 59.2 MJ, respectively). The study also included a sensitivity analysis to preliminarily estimate GHG emissions from beef production systems if land opportunity cost and land use change related to grazing and feed crop production for beef were taken into account. If so, the contribution from the production of 1 kg beef to global warming would increase by a factor of 3.1–3.9, based on a depreciation period of 20 years. This highlights the importance of taking into account the impacts of land use in assessing the environmental impacts of livestock production."
UN report, “Environmental Impacts of Consumption and Production: Priority Products and Materials”, calls for a significant shift in diets away from animal based proteins towards more vegetable-based foods in order to dramatically reduce pressures on the environment. Animals are fed more than half of all the world crops. Agricultural production accounts for 70% of the global freshwater consumption and 38% of the total land use. Food production accounts for 19% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions and 60% of the phosphorus and nitrogen pollution and 30% of toxic pollution in Europe. Over exploitation and collapse of fish stocks is clearly associated with the fishery sector. With a 50 per cent growth in population estimated by 2050 "a substantial reduction of impacts would only be possible with a substantial worldwide diet change, away from animal products." It found that one third of the average US household's carbon footprint is due to emissions caused abroad producing goods imported into the US market.
Alexander Popp, Hermann Lotze-Campen, Benjamin Bodirsky. "Food consumption, diet shifts and associated non-CO2 greenhouse gases from agricultural production," Global Environmental Change, Volume 20, Issue 3, August 2010, Pages 451–462. Abstract. As a result, we found that global agricultural non-CO2 emissions increase significantly until 2055 if food energy consumption and diet preferences remain constant at the level of 1995. Non-CO2 GHG emissions will rise even more if increasing food energy consumption and changing dietary preferences towards higher value foods, like meat and milk, with increasing income are taken into account. In contrast, under a scenario of reduced meat consumption, non-CO2 GHG emissions would decrease even compared to 1995. Technological mitigation options in the agricultural sector have also the capability of decreasing non-CO2 GHG emissions significantly. However, these technological mitigation options are not as effective as changes in food consumption. Highest reduction potentials will be achieved by a combination of both approaches. Reducing the consumption of meat and dairy products and improving agricultural practices could decrease global greenhouse gas emissions substantially. By 2055 the emissions of methane and nitrous oxide from agriculture could be cut by more than eighty percent, researchers of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research find. The calculations show that global agricultural non-carbon dioxide (non-CO2) emissions increase significantly until 2055 if food energy consumption and diet preferences remain constant at the level of 1995. Taking into account changing dietary preferences towards higher value foods, like meat and milk, associated with higher income, emissions will rise even more. In contrast, reducing the demand for livestock products by 25 percent each decade from 2015 to 2055, leads to lower non-CO2 emissions even compared to 1995.
Bernstein AM, Sun Q, Hu FB, Stampfer MJ, Manson JE, Willett WC. "Major dietary protein sources and risk of coronary heart disease in women." Circulation. 2010 Aug 31;122(9):876-83. Conclusion: "These data suggest that high red meat intake increases risk of CHD and that CHD risk may be reduced importantly by shifting sources of protein in the US diet."
Stefan Wirsenius, Christian Azar and Göran Berndes. "How much land is needed for global food production under scenarios of dietary changes and livestock productivity increases in 2030?" Agricultural Systems. Volume 103, Issue 9, November 2010, Pages 621–638. Research highlights: FAO projections imply that global agricultural area may expand by 280 Mha in 2030. In the reference scenario – developed to represent the FAO projections – global agricultural area expands from the current 5.1 billion ha to 5.4 billion ha in 2030. In a fourth scenario, applied mainly to high-income regions, that assumes a minor transition towards vegetarian food (25% decrease in meat consumption) and a somewhat lower food wastage rate, land use drops to 4.4 billion ha, and land use in these regions decreases further by about 15%.
M.M. Mekonnen and A.Y. Hoekstra. "The green, blue and grey water footprint of farm animals and animal products. Volume 1: Main Report" UNESCO-IHE Value of Water Research Report Series No. 48. The study shows that the water footprint of meat from beef cattle (15400 m3/ton as a global average) is much larger than the footprints of meat from sheep (10400 m3/ton), pig (6000 m3/ton), goat (5500 m3/ton) or chicken (4300 m3/ton). The global average water footprint of chicken egg is 3300 m3/ton, while the water footprint of cow milk amounts to 1000 m3/ton. Per ton of product, animal products generally have a larger water footprint than crop products. The same is true when we look at the water footprint per calorie. The average water footprint per calorie for beef is twenty times larger than for cereals and starchy roots. When we look at the water requirements for protein, we find that the water footprint per gram of protein for milk, eggs and chicken meat is about 1.5 times larger than for pulses. For beef, the water footprint per gram of protein is 6 times larger than for pulses. In the case of fat, we find that butter has a relatively small water footprint per gram of fat, even lower than for oil crops. All other animal products, however, have larger water footprints per gram of fat when compared to oil crops. The study shows that from a freshwater resource perspective, it is more efficient to obtaincalories, protein and fat through crop products than animal products.
Thornton. P. K., et al (2011) “Livestock and climate change”, International Livestock Research Institute. Note: The animal agriculture sector is by far the single largest anthropogenic user of land. Livestock grazing alone, without counting feed production, has been estimated to occupy 45% of all land on earth, with a value of at least US$1.4 Trillion.
FAO's report, “Energy Smart Food for People and Climate.” Globally, the food supply chain consumes 30% of the world’s available energy and produces about 20% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. This includes both direct and indirect inputs and emissions from the production, transport and preparation of food by producers, distributors, and consumers. More than one-third of the food we produce is lost or wasted, and with it about 38 percent of the energy consumed in food system.
Daniel CR, Cross AJ, Koebnick C, Sinha R. "Trends in meat consumption in the USA," Public Health Nutr. 14 (4): 575-83. Conclusion: "We found positive associations between red meat intake and esophageal squamous cell carcinoma, and between DiMeIQx intake and gastric cardia cancer."
Gurian-Sherman D. "Raising the Steaks: Global Warming and
Pasture-Raised Beef Production in the United States." Union of Concerned Scientists, Washington DC. http://tinyurl.com/khpt38w
Ariel Dinar, Robert O. Mendelsohn (eds). Handbook on Climate Change and Agriculture. Edward Elgar Publishing. The authors argue that climate change is likely to have an extensive impact on agriculture around the world through changes in temperature, precipitation, concentrations of carbon dioxide, and available water flows.
Tara Garnett. "Where are the best opportunities for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the food system (including the food chain)?" Food Policy, Volume 36, Supplement 1, January 2011, Pages S23–S32. Abstract. This paper reviews estimates of food related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at the global, regional and national levels, highlighting both GHG-intensive stages in the food chain, and GHG-intensive food types. It examines approaches that have been proposed for mitigating emissions at each stage in the chain and looks at how these sit within wider discussions of sustainability. It finds that efficiency-focused technological measures, while important, may not only be insufficient in reducing GHGs to the level required but may also give rise to other environmental and ethical concerns. It gives evidence showing that in addition to technological mitigation it will also be necessary to shift patterns of consumption, and in particular away from diets rich in GHG-intensive meat and dairy foods. This will be necessary not just in the developed but also, in the longer term, in the developing world. This move, while potentially beneficial for food secure, wealthier populations, raises potentially serious nutritional questions for the world’s poorest. A priority for decision makers is to develop policies that explicitly seek to integrate agricultural, environmental and nutritional objectives.
Christopher Jones and Daniel Kammen in "Quantifying Carbon Footprint Reduction Opportunities for U.S. Households and Communities,” Environ. Sci. Technol., 2011, 45 (9), pp 4088–4095. Jones compared all the ways US households can cut their emissions. Although food was not the biggest source of emissions, it was where people could make the biggest and most cost-effective savings, by wasting less food and eating less meat. Jones calculated that saving each tonne of CO2 emissions would also save the household $600 to $700. "Americans waste about a third of the food they buy, and eat about 30 per cent more calories than recommended, on average," says Jones. "Reducing food purchases and physical consumption would have even greater greenhouse gas benefits than reducing meat consumption in the American case."
Cross AJ, Freedman ND, Ren J, Ward MH, Hollenbeck AR, Schatzkin A, Sinha R, Abnet CC. "Meat consumption and risk of esophageal and gastric cancer in a large prospective study." Am J Gastroenterol. 2011 Mar; 106 (3):432-42. Conclusions: "We found positive associations between red meat intake and esophageal squamous cell carcinoma, and between DiMeIQx intake and gastric cardia cancer."
UN Economic Commission for Europe' report, “Excessive nitrogen harms the economy and environment.” Dr Sutton said “Nearly half the world’s population depends on synthetic, nitrogen-based fertilizer for food but measures are needed to reduce the impacts of nitrogen pollution. Solutions include more efficient use of fertilizers and manures, and people choosing to eat less meat.”
M. Berners-Leea, C. Hoolohana, H. Cammacka, C.N. Hewittb. "The relative greenhouse gas impacts of realistic dietary choices." Energy Policy, Volume 43, April 2012, Pages 184–190. Abstract. The greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions embodied in 61 different categories of food are used, with information on the diet of different groups of the population (omnivorous, vegetarian and vegan), to calculate the embodied GHG emissions in different dietary scenarios. We calculate that the embodied GHG content of the current UK food supply is 7.4 kg CO2e person−1 day−1, or 2.7 t CO2e person−1 y−1. This gives total food-related GHG emissions of 167 Mt CO2e (1 Mt=106 metric tonnes; CO2e being the mass of CO2 that would have the same global warming potential, when measured over 100 years, as a given mixture of greenhouse gases) for the entire UK population in 2009. This is 27% of total direct GHG emissions in the UK, or 19% of total GHG emissions from the UK, including those embodied in goods produced abroad. We calculate that potential GHG savings of 22% and 26% can be made by changing from the current UK-average diet to a vegetarian or vegan diet, respectively. Taking the average GHG saving from six vegetarian or vegan dietary scenarios compared with the current UK-average diet gives a potential national GHG saving of 40 Mt CO2e y−1. This is equivalent to a 50% reduction in current exhaust pipe emissions from the entire UK passenger car fleet. Hence realistic choices about diet can make substantial differences to embodied GHG emissions.
M. Herrero, P. Gerber, T. Vellinga, T. Garnett, A. Leip, C. Opio, H.J. Westhoek, P.K. Thornton, J. Olesen, N. Hutchings, H. Montgomery, J.-F. Soussana, H. Steinfeld, and T.A. McAllister. "Livestock and greenhouse gas emissions: The importance of getting the numbers right." Animal Feed Science and Technology, Volumes 166–167, 23 June 2011, Pages 779–782. Special Issue: Greenhouse Gases in Animal Agriculture - Finding a Balance between Food and Emissions. Notes: This letter is critical of Goodland and Anhang 2009. Abstract: "Estimates of global greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions attributable to livestock range from 8 to 51%. This variability creates confusion among policy makers and the public as it suggests that there is a lack of consensus among scientists with regard to the contribution of livestock to global GHG emissions. In reality, estimates of international scientific organizations such as the International Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) are in close agreement, with variation mainly arising on how GHG emissions are allocated to land use and land use change." -Note: In fact, IPCC merely accepts FAO's data and did no independent studies of its own on livestock's lifecycle GHG emissions. See Goodland's response above.
F.P. O’Mara. "The significance of livestock as a contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions today and in the near future." Animal Feed Science and Technology, Volumes 166–167, 23 June 2011, Pages 7–15. Special Issue: Greenhouse Gases in Animal Agriculture - Finding a Balance between Food and Emissions. Note: Accepts FAO 2006 18% figure. Abstract: " Livestock related emissions will increase as world population and food demand increases; enteric CH4 emissions are projected to grow by over 30% from 2000 to 2020."
J.P. Lesschen, M. van den Berg, H.J. Westhoek, H.P. Witzke, and O. Oenema. "Greenhouse gas emission profiles of European livestock sectors." Animal Feed Science and Technology, Volumes 166–167, 23 June 2011, Pages 16–28. Special Issue: Greenhouse Gases in Animal Agriculture - Finding a Balance between Food and Emissions. Abstract: "Sources of GHG emissions included were enteric fermentation, manure management, direct and indirect N2O soil emissions, cultivation of organic soils, liming, fossil fuel use and fertilizer production. The dairy sector had the highest GHG emission in the EU-27, with annual emission of 195 Tg CO2-eq, followed by the beef sector with 192 Tg CO2-eq. Enteric fermentation was the main source of GHG emissions in the European livestock sector (36%) followed by N2O soil emissions (28%). On a per kg product basis, beef had by far the highest GHG emission with 22.6 kg CO2-eq/kg, milk had an emission of 1.3 kg CO2-eq/kg, pork 3.5 kg CO2-eq/kg, poultry 1.6 kg CO2-eq/kg, and eggs 1.7 kg CO2-eq/kg. However large variations in GHG emissions per unit product exist among EU countries, which are due to differences in animal production systems, feed types and nutrient use efficiencies. There are, however, substantial uncertainties in the base data and applied methodology such as assumptions surrounding allocation of feeds to livestock species."
Natalie A. Browne, Richard J. Eckard, Ralph Behrendt, and Ross S. Kingwell. "A comparative analysis of on-farm greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural enterprises in south eastern Australia." Animal Feed Science and Technology, Volumes 166–167, 23 June 2011, Pages 641–652. Special Issue: Greenhouse Gases in Animal Agriculture - Finding a Balance between Food and Emissions. Abstract: "The calculator included CH4 and N2O on-farm emissions but excluded emissions from pre- and post-farm processes, such as meat processing and fertiliser production. Energy and transport emissions were also excluded because they are not defined as agricultural emissions in the Australian National Inventory. Dairy farms produced the highest emissions/ha (8.4–10.5 t CO2-eqv/ha), followed by beef (3.9–5.1 t CO2-eqv/ha), sheep (2.8–4.3 t CO2-eqv/ha) and grains (0.1–0.2 t CO2-eqv/ha). When compared on an emissions intensity basis (i.e., t CO2-eqv/t product), cow/calf farms emitted the most (22.4–22.8 t CO2-eqv/t carcass weight) followed by wool (18.1–18.7 t CO2-eqv/t clean fleece), prime lamb (11.4–12.0 t CO2-eqv/t carcass weight), dairy (8.5–9.4 t CO2-eqv/t milk fat + protein), steers (6.3–6.7 t CO2-eqv/t carcass weight) and finally grains (0.04–0.15 t CO2-eqv/t grain).
M. Gjerris, C. Gamborg, H. Röcklinsberg, R. Anthony. "The Price of Responsibility: Ethics of Animal Husbandry in a Time of Climate Change," Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, August 2011, Volume 24, Issue 4, pp 331-350. Abstract. This paper examines the challenges that climate change raises for animal agriculture and discusses the contributions that may come from a virtue ethics based approach. Two scenarios of the future role of animals in farming are set forth and discussed in terms of their ethical implications. The paper argues that when trying to tackle both climate and animal welfare issues in farming, proposals that call for a reorientation of our ethics and technology must first and foremost consider the values that drive current livestock production. This paper sets forth and discusses the broader societal values implicit in livestock production. We suggest that a virtues approach would improve our thinking and practice regarding animal agriculture, facilitating a move from livestock production to animal husbandry. This change in animal agriculture in a time of climate change would stress virtues such as attentiveness, responsibility, competence, and responsiveness as central elements in any mitigation or adaptation program.
Stefan Wirsenius, Fredrik Hedenus and Kristina Mohlin. "Greenhouse gas taxes on animal food products: rationale, tax scheme and climate mitigation effects." Climatic Change September 2011, Volume 108, Issue 1-2, pp 159-184. Abstract: Agriculture is responsible for 25–30% of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions but has thus far been largely exempted from climate policies. Because of high monitoring costs and comparatively low technical potential for emission reductions in the agricultural sector, output taxes on emission-intensive agricultural goods may be an efficient policy instrument to deal with agricultural GHG emissions. In this study we assess the emission mitigation potential of GHG weighted consumption taxes on animal food products in the EU. We also estimate the decrease in agricultural land area through the related changes in food production and the additional mitigation potential in devoting this land to bioenergy production. Estimates are based on a model of food consumption and the related land use and GHG emissions in the EU. Results indicate that agricultural emissions in the EU27 can be reduced by approximately 32 million tons of CO2-eq with a GHG weighted tax on animal food products corresponding to €60 per ton CO2-eq. The effect of the tax is estimated to be six times higher if lignocellulosic crops are grown on the land made available and used to substitute for coal in power generation. Most of the effect of a GHG weighted tax on animal food can be captured by taxing the consumption of ruminant meat alone.
Daniel CR, Schwartz KL, Colt JS, Dong LM, Ruterbusch JJ, Purdue MP, Cross AJ, Rothman N, Davis FG, Wacholder S, Graubard BI, Chow WH, Sinha R. "Meat-cooking mutagens and risk of renal cell carcinoma." Br J Cancer. Sep 27;105 (7):1096-104. Abstract: "High-temperature cooked meat contains two families of carcinogens, heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). BaP intake, a PAH in barbecued meat, was positively associated with RCC. With increasing BaP intake, the risk of RCC was more than twofold in African Americans and current smokers."
Alejandro D. Gonzáleza, Björn Frostellb, Annika Carlsson-Kanyamac. "Protein efficiency per unit energy and per unit greenhouse gas emissions: Potential contribution of diet choices to climate change mitigation." Food Policy, Volume 36, Issue 5, October 2011, Pages 562–570. Abstract. The production, transport and processing of food products have significant environmental impacts, some of them related to climate change. This study examined the energy use and greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production and transport to a port in Sweden (wholesale point) of 84 common food items of animal and vegetable origin. Energy use and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for food items produced in different countries and using various means of production were compared. The results confirmed that animal-based foods are associated with higher energy use and GHG emissions than plant-based foods, with the exception of vegetables produced in heated greenhouses. Analyses of the nutritional value of the foods to assess the amount of protein delivered to the wholesale point per unit energy used or GHG emitted (protein delivery efficiency) showed that the efficiency was much higher for plant-based foods than for animal-based. Remarkably, the efficiency of delivering plant-based protein increased as the amount of protein in the food increased, while the efficiency of delivering animal-based protein decreased. These results have implications for policies encouraging diets with lower environmental impacts for a growing world population.
Fu Z, Deming SL, Fair AM, Shrubsole MJ, Wujcik DM, Shu XO, Kelley M, Zheng W. "Well-done meat intake and meat-derived mutagen exposures in relation to breast cancer risk: the Nashville Breast Health Study." Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2011 Oct;129(3):919-28. "The results from this study provide strong support for the hypotheses that high red meat intake and meat-derived mutagen exposure may be associated with an increase in breast cancer risk."
World Energy Outlook 2011. Paris: OCED/ International Energy Agancy (IEA). Excerpt: “Four-fifths of the total energy-related CO2 emissions permissible by 2035 in the 450 Scenario are already “locked-in” by our existing capital stock - power plants, buildings, factories, etc. If stringent new action is not forthcoming by 2017, the energy-related infrastructure then in place will generate all the CO2 emissions allowed in the 450 Scenario up to 2035, leaving no room for additional power plants, factories and other infrastructure unless they are zero-carbon, which would be extremely costly. Delaying action is a false economy: for every $1 of investment avoided in the power sector before 2020 an additional $4.3 would need to be spent after 2020 to compensate for the increased emissions.”
Gerbens-Leenes, P.W., Mekonnen, M.M. and Hoekstra, A.Y. "A comparative study on the water footprint of poultry, pork and beef in different countries and production systems," Value of Water Research Report Series No. 55, UNESCO-IHE. Abstract: "Producing animal products requires large amounts of water. Agriculture accounts for 92 per cent of the global freshwater footprint. In agriculture, 29 per cent of the water is needed for growing animal feed, which means that about a quarter of the global water footprint relates to the consumption of animal products. This includes green water (rainwater), blue water (fresh surface or groundwater) and grey water (water needed to cope with pollution). It is likely that this fraction would increase further if production rises, especially in rapidly developing countries like Brazil and China. This report gives an overview of water footprints (green, blue and grey) for three types of meat (poultry, pork and beef) for Brazil, China, the Netherlands and the United States. The report addresses grazing, mixed and industrial production systems."
FAO. World Review of Fisheries and Aquaculture. 2012.
Guis H, Caminade C, Calvete C, Morse AP, Tran A, Baylis M. "Modelling the effects of past and future climate on the risk of bluetongue emergence in Europe." J. R. Soc. Interface 9:339–50
Thornton P, Cramer L. (eds.). Impacts of climate change on the agricultural and aquatic systems and natural resources within the CGIAR’s mandate. CCAFS Working Paper 23. Copenhagen, Denmark: CCAFS. Abstract: "A total of 25 summaries covering 22 agricultural commodities, agroforestry, forests and water resources, present information on the importance of each commodity for food and nutrition security globally, the biological vulnerability of the commodity or natural resource to climate change, and what is known about the likely socio- economic vulnerability of populations dependent partially or wholly on the commodity or natural resource. With a few exceptions, the likely impacts of climate change on key staples and natural resources in developing countries in the coming decades are not understood in any great depth. There are many uncertainties as to how changes in temperature, rainfall and atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations will interact in relation to agricultural productivity. The resultant changes in the incidence, intensity and spatial distribution of important weeds, pests and diseases are largely unknown. And the impacts of climate change and increases in climate variability on agricultural systems and natural-resource-dependent households, as well as on food security and the future vulnerability of already hungry people in the tropics and subtropics, are still largely a closed book."
“World Review of Fisheries and Aquaculture.” FAO Report. Excerpt: "Overall global capture fisheries production continues to remain stable at about 90 million tonnes (Table 1) although there have been some marked changes in catch trends by country, fishing area and species. In the last seven years (2004–2010), landings of all marine species except anchoveta only ranged between 72.1 million and 73.3 million tonnes. In contrast, the most dramatic changes, as usual, have been for anchoveta catches in the Southeast Pacific, which decreased from 10.7 million tonnes in 2004 to 4.2 million tonnes in 2010."
Ercin, A.E., Aldaya, M.M. and Hoekstra, A.Y. "The water footprint of soy milk and soy burger and equivalent animal products," Ecological Indicators, 18: 392−402.
Mekonnen, M.M. and Hoekstra, A.Y. "A global assessment of the water footprint of farm animal products," Ecosystems, 15(3): 401−415.
Anderson KE, Mongin SJ, Sinha R, Stolzenberg-Solomon R, Gross MD, Ziegler RG, Mabie JE, Risch A, Kazin SS, Church TR. "Pancreatic cancer risk: associations with meat-derived carcinogen intake in the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial (PLCO) cohort." Mol Carcinog. Jan;51(1):128-37. Conclusion: "Consuming well-done meat cooked at high temperatures, which contains high mutagen levels, appears to confer increased risk of pancreatic cancer."
Markus Vinnaria, Petri Tapiob. "Sustainability of diets: From concepts to governance," Ecological Economics, Volume 74, February 2012, Pages 46–54. Abstract. The production of food for consumption produces environmental stress and raises ethical issues. As humans are able to choose different foodstuffs in their diets, food consumption guidance may have large benefits for the environment. Meat consumption is often identified as the most environmentally harmful foodstuff to produce and animal welfare and rights issues are receiving ever more attention. By combining both issues, this article proposes a conceptual framework for combining alternative dietary habits and agricultural production styles in general environmental policy strategies. Two means to lower meat consumption are proposed: 1) Redeveloping the Pigouvian food taxation system introduced by Goodland (1997), in which foodstuffs are taxed according to their environmental burden. An elaborated version could also include an ethical tax that incorporates consumers' attitudes on animal welfare and a coefficient that takes into account the inherent value of animals; 2) Taking the composition of a national stockpile as a starting point and designing the agricultural production system from a combined environmental and ethical perspective. In this system, the environmentally and ethically preferable foodstuffs would be purchased by the government and sold to the global markets. The premiums between these two prices would constitute the subsidies for the national production.
Hanna Schösler, Joop de Boer, Jan J. Boersema. "Can we cut out the meat of the dish? Constructing consumer-oriented pathways towards meat substitution." Appetite, Volume 58, Issue 1, February 2012, Pages 39–47. Abstract. The shift towards a more sustainable diet necessitates less reliance on foods of animal origin. This study presents data from a representative survey of Dutch consumers on their practices related to meat, meat substitution and meat reduction. The practices reflected a cultural gradient of meat substitution options running from other products of animal origin and conventional meat free meals to real vegetarian meals. To investigate feasible substitution options, a variety of meals without meat were presented using photos, which were rated by the participants in terms of attractiveness and chances that they would prepare a similar meal at home. The results demonstrated the influence of meal formats, product familiarity, cooking skills, preferences for plant-based foods and motivational orientations towards food. In particular, a lack of familiarity and skill hampered the preparation of real vegetarian meals. Based on the findings we propose a diversified understanding of meat substitution and we specify four policy-relevant pathways for a transition towards a more plant-based diet, including an incremental change towards more health-conscious vegetarian meals, a pathway that utilizes the trend towards convenience, a pathway of reduced portion size, and practice-oriented change towards vegetarian meals.
Goodland, R. and Anhang, J. 2011. "Response to 'Livestock and greenhouse gas emissions: The importance of getting the numbers right, by Herrero et al.' Anim. Feed Sci. Technol. 166–167, 779–782 March 2012
Eric A Davidson. "Representative concentration pathways and mitigation scenarios for nitrous oxide," Environ. Res. Lett. 7 024005. The findings, by Eric Davidson, director of the Woods Hole Research Centre in Massachusetts, say the developed world will have to cut fertiliser use by 50% and persuade consumers in the developed world to stop eating so much meat. Abstract. The challenges of mitigating nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions are substantially different from those for carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4), because nitrogen (N) is essential for food production, and over 80% of anthropogenic N2O emissions are from the agricultural sector. Here I use a model of emission factors of N2O to demonstrate the magnitude of improvements in agriculture and industrial sectors and changes in dietary habits that would be necessary to match the four representative concentration pathways (RCPs) now being considered in the fifth assessment report (AR5) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Stabilizing atmospheric N2O by 2050, consistent with the most aggressive of the RCP mitigation scenarios, would require about 50% reductions in emission factors in all sectors and about a 50% reduction in mean per capita meat consumption in the developed world. Technologies exist to achieve such improved efficiencies, but overcoming social, economic, and political impediments for their adoption and for changes in dietary habits will present large challenges.
Hoekstra, A.Y. "The hidden water resource use behind meat and dairy," Animal Frontiers, 2(2): 3-8. Implications: "The consumption of animal products contributes to more than one-quarter of the water footprint of humanity. The water needed to produce feed is the major factor behind the water footprint of animal products. In industralized countries, moving toward a vegetarian diet can reduce the food-related water footprint of people by 36%.
Mesfin M. Mekonnen* and Arjen Y. Hoekstra. "A Global Assessment of the Water Footprint of Farm Animal Products," Ecosystems. April 2012, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 401-415. Abstract: "The increase in the consumption of animal products is likely to put further pressure on the world’s freshwater resources. This paper provides a comprehensive account of the water footprint of animal products, considering different production systems and feed composition per animal type and country. Nearly one-third of the total water footprint of agriculture in the world is related to the production of animal products. The water footprint of any animal product is larger than the water footprint of crop products with equivalent nutritional value. The average water footprint per calorie for beef is 20 times larger than for cereals and starchy roots. The water footprint per gram of protein for milk, eggs and chicken meat is 1.5 times larger than for pulses. The unfavorable feed conversion efficiency for animal products is largely responsible for the relatively large water footprint of animal products compared to the crop products. Animal products from industrial systems generally consume and pollute more ground- and surface-water resources than animal products from grazing or mixed systems. The rising global meat consumption and the intensification of animal production systems will put further pressure on the global freshwater resources in the coming decades. The study shows that from a freshwater perspective, animal products from grazing systems have a smaller blue and grey water footprint than products from industrial systems, and that it is more water-efficient to obtain calories, protein and fat through crop products than animal products."
Andrew Joyce, Sarah Dixon, Jude Comfort, and Jonathan Hallett. "Reducing the Environmental Impact of Dietary Choice: Perspectives from a Behavioural and Social Change Approach," Journal of Environmental and Public Health, Volume 2012. Review Article. Abstract. Climate change is recognised as a significant public health issue that will impact on food security. One of the major contributors to global warming is the livestock industry, and, relative to plant-based agriculture, meat production has a much higher environmental impact in relation to freshwater use, amount of land required, and waste products generated. Promoting increased consumption of plant-based foods is a recommended strategy to reduce human impact on the environment and is also now recognised as a potential strategy to reduce the high rates of some chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and certain cancers. Currently there is a scant evidence base for policies and programs aiming to increase consumption of plant-based diets and little research on the necessary conditions for that change to occur and the processes involved in such a change. This paper reviews some of the environmental and health consequences of current dietary practices, reviews literature on the determinants of consuming a plant-based diet, and provides recommendations for further research in this area.
Erika Podest. "Methane: Its Role as a Greenhouse Gas," Greenhouse Gasses Professional Development Workshop. Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Pasadena, CA. April 21, 2012. Notes: Since 1750, carbon dioxide (CO2) levels have increased nearly 40% to 394 ppm as of 2012, but methane (CH4) levels have increased by almost 165% to 1800 ppb. Global emissions from natural sources of methane total around 250 mTons annually. Global emissions from man-made sources are the largest contributor, and total about 320 mTons annually. Energy related (26%) and ruminants (24%) methane dominate man-made methane sources.
Tom Powell and Tim Lenton of the University of Exeter, article, “Future carbon dioxide removal via biomass energy constrained by agricultural efficiency and dietary trends,” in Energy and Environmental Science. The research suggests that in order to feed a population of 9.3 billion by 2050 we need to dramatically increase the efficiency of our farming by eating less beef, recycling waste and wasting less food. Lead researcher Tom Powell said: “Our research clearly shows that recycling more and eating less meat could provide a key to rebalancing the global carbon cycle. Meat production involves significant energy losses: only around four per cent of crops grown for livestock turn into meat. By focusing on making agriculture more efficient and encouraging people to reduce the amount of meat they eat, we could keep global temperatures within the two degrees threshold.”
Kurt Schmidinger and Elke Stehfest. "Including CO2 implications of land occupation in LCAs—method and example for livestock products." The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment. September 2012, Volume 17, Issue 8, pp 962-972. Results: Example calculations for several livestock products show that the CO2 consequences of land occupation can be in the same order of magnitude as the other process related greenhouse gas emissions of the LCA, and depend largely on the production system. The highest CO2 implications of land occupation are calculated for beef and lamb, with beef production in Brazil having a missed potential carbon sink more than twice as high as the other GHG emissions.
Macdiarmid JI, Kyle J, Horgan GW, Loe J, Fyfe C, Johnstone A, McNeil G. “Sustainable diets for the future: can we contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by eating a healthy diet?” Am J Clin Nutr 2012; 96:632–9. Conclusion: A sustainable diet that meets dietary requirements for health with lower GHGEs can be achieved without eliminating meat or dairy products or increasing the cost to the consumer.
Angie Clonan and Michelle Holdsworth. "The challenges of eating a healthy and sustainable diet," Am J Clin Nutr, September 2012 vol. 96 no. 3 459-460. Comparisons between vegetarian and nonvegetarian diets have illustrated vast differences in their environmental impact, with the nonvegetarian diet using 2.9 times more water, 2.5 times more primary energy, 13 times more fertilizer, and 1.4 times more pesticides than the vegetarian diet (8). Animal-based foods also generate more GHGEs than do plant-based foods, with the exception of fruit and vegetables grown in greenhouses.
D. Vanham. "The water footprint of Austria for different diets," Water Science and Technology, 67.4, 2013. ABSTRACT. This paper analyses the Austrian water footprint of consumption (WFcons) for different diets: the current diet, a healthy diet (based upon the dietary recommendations issued by the German nutrition society, or DGE), a vegetarian diet and a combined diet between both latter diets. As in many western countries, the current Austrian diet consists of too many products from the groups sugar, crop oils, meat, animal fats, milk, milk products and eggs and not enough products from the groups cereals, rice, potatoes, vegetables and fruit. Especially the consumption of animal products accounts for high WF amounts. These diets result in a substantial reduction (range 922–1,362 l per capita per day (lcd)) of the WFcons for agricultural products, which is currently 3,655 lcd. However, the Austrian water footprint of agricultural production (WFprod ¼ 2,066 lcd) still remains lower than even the WFcons for a vegetarian diet (2,293 lcd). As a result the country is a net virtual water importer
regarding agricultural products for all analysed scenarios.
Sonja J. Vermeulen, Bruce M. Campbell, and John S.I. Ingram. "Climate Change and Food Systems" in Annual Review of Environment and Resources, Vol. 37: 195-222 (November). Food systems contribute 19%–29% of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, releasing 9,800–16,900 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) in 2008. Agricultural production, including indirect emissions associated with land-cover change, contributes 80%–86% of total food system emissions.
Richard Oppenlander. Comfortably Unaware: What We Choose to Eat Is Killing Us and Our Planet. Beaufort Books. 200 pages. For those who feel they are not yet willing to give up meat, Oppenlander points out that the depletion caused by animal agriculture may leave us with nothing at all. Already, 55 percent of the world’s fresh water is being used to raise animals for food. In the U.S. alone, 70 percent of all grain feeds livestock instead of humans, while worldwide more than a billion people suffer from hunger and malnutrition. He notes that “80 percent of the world’s starving children live in countries where food surpluses are fed to animals that are then killed and eaten by more well-off individuals in developed countries.”
Nijdam, D., Rood, T. & Westhoek, H. "The price of protein: Review of land use and carbon footprints from life cycle assessments of animal food products and their substitutes." Food Policy Volume 37, Issue 6, December 2012, Pages 760–770. Abstract: 104 Carbon footprints and 43 land footprints of protein sources are examined. The carbon footprint of the most climate-friendly protein sources is up to 100 times smaller than those of the most climate-unfriendly. The differences between footprints of the various products were found mainly to be due to differences in production systems. The outcomes for pork and poultry show much more homogeneity than for beef and seafood. This is largely because both beef and seafood production show a wide variety of production systems. Land use (occupation), comprising both arable land and grasslands, also varies strongly, ranging from negligible for seafood to up to 2100 m2 y kg−1 of protein from extensive cattle farming. From farm to fork the feed production and animal husbandry are by far the most important contributors to the environmental impacts.
Leach, A. M.; Bleeker, A.; Galloway, J. N.; Erisman, J. "Human Decisions: Nitrogen Footprints and Environmental Effects," American Geophysical Union, Fall Meeting 2012. Abstract: Preliminary results suggest that widespread advanced wastewater treatment with nutrient removal technology and halving food waste would each reduce the US personal food nitrogen footprint by 13%. In addition, reducing protein consumption to the recommended levels would reduce the footprint by about 42%. Combining these measures would reduce the food N footprint by ~60%. Such a reduction would result in significant lessening of the impacts of societal use of food resources on both ecosystem and human health.
Chen GC, Lv DB, Pang Z, Liu QF. "Red and processed meat consumption and risk of stroke: a meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies." Eur J Clin Nutr. 2013 Jan;67(1):91-5. Conclusion: "Findings from this meta-analysis indicate that consumption of red and/or processed meat increase risk of stroke, in particular, ischemic stroke."
Keynyn Brysse, Naomi Oreskes, Jessica O’Reilly, and Michael Oppenheimer. "Climate change prediction: Erring on the side of least drama?" Global Environmental Change, Volume 23, Issue 1, February 2013, Pages 327–337. Abstract: "Over the past two decades, skeptics of the reality and significance of anthropogenic climate change have frequently accused climate scientists of “alarmism”: of over-interpreting or overreacting to evidence of human impacts on the climate system. However, the available evidence suggests that scientists have in fact been conservative in their projections of the impacts of climate change. In particular, we discuss recent studies showing that at least some of the key attributes of global warming from increased atmospheric greenhouse gases have been under-predicted, particularly in IPCC assessments of the physical science, by Working Group I. We also note the less frequent manifestation of over-prediction of key characteristics of climate in such assessments. We suggest, therefore, that scientists are biased not toward alarmism but rather the reverse: toward cautious estimates, where we define caution as erring on the side of less rather than more alarming predictions. We call this tendency “erring on the side of least drama (ESLD).” We explore some cases of ESLD at work, including predictions of Arctic ozone depletion and the possible disintegration of the West Antarctic ice sheet, and suggest some possible causes of this directional bias, including adherence to the scientific norms of restraint, objectivity, skepticism, rationality, dispassion, and moderation."
Robert L. Beschta, Debra L. Donahue, Dominick A. DellaSala, Jonathan J. Rhodes, James R. Karr, Mary H. O’Brien, Thomas L. Fleischner, and Cindy Deacon Williams. "Adapting to Climate Change on Western Public Lands: Addressing the Ecological Effects of Domestic, Wild, and Feral Ungulates." Environmental Management. February 2013, Volume 51, Issue 2, pp 474-491. Abstract: Climate change affects public land ecosystems and services throughout the American West and these effects are projected to intensify. Removing or reducing livestock across large areas of public land would alleviate a widely recognized and long-term stressor and make these lands less susceptible to the effects of climate change. Where livestock use continues, or where significant densities of wild or feral ungulates occur, management should carefully document the ecological, social, and economic consequences (both costs and benefits) to better ensure management that minimizes ungulate impacts to plant and animal communities, soils, and water resources. Reestablishing apex predators in large, contiguous areas of public land may help mitigate any adverse ecological effects of wild ungulates.
Gerbens-Leenes, P.W., Mekonnen, M.M. and Hoekstra, A.Y. "The water footprint of poultry, pork and beef: A comparative study in different countries and production systems, Water Resources and Industry, 1-2: 25-36. Abstract: "Agriculture accounts for 92% of the freshwater footprint of humanity; almost one third relates to animal products. In a recent global study, Mekonnen and Hoekstra (2012)  show that animal products have a large water footprint (WF) relative to crop products. We use the outcomes of that study to show general trends in the WFs of poultry, pork and beef. We observe three main factors driving the WF of meat: feed conversion efficiencies (feed amount per unit of meat obtained), feed composition and feed origin. Efficiency improves from grazing to mixed to industrial systems, because animals in industrial systems get more concentrated feed, move less, are bred to grow faster and slaughtered younger. This factor contributes to a general decrease in WFs from grazing to mixed to industrial systems. The second factor is feed composition, particularly the ratio of concentrates to roughages, which increases from grazing to mixed to industrial systems. Concentrates have larger WFs than roughages, so that this factor contributes to a WF increase, especially blue and grey WFs, from grazing and mixed to industrial systems. The third factor, the feed origin, is important because water use related to feed crop growing varies across and within regions. The overall resultant WF of meat depends on the relative importance of the three main determining factors. In general, beef has a larger total WF than pork, which in turn has a larger WF than poultry, but the average global blue and grey WFs are similar across the three meat products. When we consider grazing systems, the blue and grey water footprints of poultry and pork are greater than those for beef."
Joop de Boer, Hanna Schösler, Jan J. Boersema. "Climate change and meat eating: An inconvenient couple?" Journal of Environmental Psychology, Volume 33, March 2013, Pages 1–8. Abstract. This paper addresses the relationship between meat eating and climate change focusing on motivational explanations of environmentally-relevant consumer behavior. Based on a sample of 1083 Dutch consumers, it examines their responses to the idea that they can make a big difference to nature and climate protection by choosing one or more meals without meat every week. This idea can be seen as a new opportunity to help mitigation, but also as a counterproductive message that might trigger negative responses among consumers who are skeptical about climate change. As hypothesized, the meat-free meal idea was received more positively by consumers who valued care for nature and more negatively by those who did not value it. Also as hypothesized, the meat-free meal idea was received more negatively by consumers who were skeptical about the seriousness of climate change. The idea was not received more positively by those who did take it seriously. The results support the notion that the meat-free meal idea may serve as a counterproductive message. From the perspective of motivation, it is preferable not to isolate the meat-climate issue but to develop an approach that combines multiple values regarding food choices, including health and nature-related values.
Stefan Åström, Susanna Roth, Jonatan Wranne, Kristian Jelse, Maria Lindblad. "Food consumption choices and climate change." IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute. IVL Report B2091. April 2013. If our grocery bags correspond to 50 per cent of the food purchased, and if all Swedes would have eaten a diet corresponding to our Swedish seasonal vegetarian grocery bag, current annual Swedish GHG emissions from food consumption could be reduced by approximately 3.6 million tonnes CO2e.”
Feskens EJ, Sluik D, van Woudenbergh GJ. "Meat consumption, diabetes, and its complications." Curr Diab Rep. Apr;13(2):298-306. Abstract: "the strongest association regarding type 2 diabetes T2DM is observed for processed (red) meat. A similar observation has been made for CHD. For stroke, however, a recent meta-analysis shows moderately elevated risks for meat consumers, for processed as well as for fresh meats. For the microvascular complications of diabetes, few prospective data were available, but suggestions for elevated risks can be derived from findings on hyperglycemia and hypertension. The results are discussed in the light of the typical nutrients and other compounds present in meat--that is, saturated and trans fatty acids, dietary cholesterol, protein and amino acids, heme-iron, sodium, nitrites and nitrosamines, and advanced glycation end products. In light of these findings, a diet moderate to low in red meat, unprocessed and lean, and prepared at moderate temperatures is probably the best choice from the public health point of view."
Joan Sabaté and Irana Hawkins. "Defining 'sustainable' and 'healthy' diets in an era of great environmental concern and increased prevalence of chronic diseases." American Society for Nutrition. May 2013 vol. 97 no. 5 1151-1152 Letters to the Editor. Note: "dietary recommendations can and should optimize human health while simultaneously minimizing GHGEs and protecting the living systems of the natural environment. This means that all factors affecting food systems and ecosystems, which include but are not limited to pesticides, fertilizers, hormones, and antibiotics, must be considered when striving for a “sustainable” diet. Although the recommendations of Macdiarmid et al. appear to be healthier and produce less GHGEs than the current UK consumption standards, this should not translate to broad-based recommendations that are considered “healthy” or “sustainable.” Certainly, further research is warranted that comprehensively considers all factors that intersect the food system and the natural environment."
Vaclav Smil. Should We Eat Meat? Evolution and Consequences of Modern Carnivory. Wiley-Blackwell. 2013. The major global trends of meat consumption are described in order to find out what part its consumption plays in changing modern diets in countries around the world. The heart of the book addresses the consequences of the “massive carnivory” of western diets, looking at the inefficiencies of production and at the huge impacts on land, water, and the atmosphere.
Robert A Koeth, Zeneng Wang, Bruce S Levison, Jennifer A Buffa, Elin Org, Brendan T Sheehy, Earl B Britt, Xiaoming Fu, Yuping Wu, Lin Li, Jonathan D Smith, Joseph A DiDonato, Jun Chen, Hongzhe Li, Gary D Wu, James D Lewis, Manya Warrier, J Mark Brown, Ronald M Krauss, W H Wilson Tang, Frederic D Bushman, Aldons J Lusis & Stanley L Hazen. "Intestinal microbiota metabolism of L-carnitine, a nutrient in red meat, promotes atherosclerosis." Nature Medicine 19, 576–585 Excerpt: "Intestinal microbiota may thus contribute to the well-established link between high levels of red meat consumption and CVD risk."
Ryan S. Miller, Matthew L. Farnsworth, Jennifer L. Malmberg. "Diseases at the livestock–wildlife interface: Status, challenges, and opportunities in the United States," Preventive Veterinary Medicine, Volume 110, Issue 2, 1 June 2013, Pages 119–132. Abstract: We found that of the 86 avian, ruminant, swine, poultry, and lagomorph diseases that are reportable to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), 53 are present in the United States; 42 (79%) of these have a putative wildlife component associated with the transmission, maintenance, or life cycle of the pathogen; and 21 (40%) are known to be zoonotic. At least six of these reportable diseases—bovine tuberculosis, paratuberculosis, brucellosis, avian influenza, rabies, and cattle fever tick (vector control)—have a wildlife reservoir that is a recognized impediment to eradication in domestic populations. The complex nature of these systems highlights the need to understand the role of wildlife in the epidemiology, transmission, and maintenance of infectious diseases of livestock.
Al-Mughairi S, Yesudhason P, Al-Busaidi M, Al-Waili A, Al-Rahbi WA, Al-Mazrooei N, Al-Habsi SH. "Concentration and exposure assessment of mercury in commercial fish and other seafood marketed in Oman." J Food Sci. Jul; 78(7):T1082-90. Abstract: "Risks were identified upon consumption of 120 g of dried shark when exceeding the provisional tolerable weekly intake threshold (1.6 μg/kg) for methylmercury."
Pete Smith, Helmut Haberl, Alexander Popp, Karl-heinz Erb, Christian Lauk, Richard Harper, Francesco N. Tubiello, Alexandre de Siqueira Pinto, Mostafa Jafari, Saran Sohi, Omar Masera, Hannes Böttcher, Göran Berndes, Mercedes Bustamante, Helal Ahammad, Harry Clark, Hongmin Dong, Elnour A. Elsiddig, Cheikh Mbow, Nijavalli H Ravindranath, Charles W. Rice, Carmenza Robledo Abad, Anna Romanovskaya, Frank Sperling, Mario Herrero, Joanna I House and Steven Rose. "How much land-based greenhouse gas mitigation can be achieved without compromising food security and environmental goals?" Global Change Biology. Volume 19, Issue 8, pages 2285–2302, August 2013. Abstract: Feeding 9–10 billion people by 2050 and preventing dangerous climate change are two of the greatest challenges facing humanity. Both challenges must be met while reducing the impact of land management on ecosystem services that deliver vital goods and services, and support human health and well-being. Few studies to date have considered the interactions between these challenges. In this study we briefly outline the challenges, review the supply- and demand-side climate mitigation potential available in the Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use AFOLU sector and options for delivering food security. We briefly outline some of the synergies and trade-offs afforded by mitigation practices, before presenting an assessment of the mitigation potential possible in the AFOLU sector under possible future scenarios in which demand-side measures codeliver to aid food security. We conclude that while supply-side mitigation measures, such as changes in land management, might either enhance or negatively impact food security, demand-side mitigation measures, such as reduced waste or demand for livestock products, should benefit both food security and greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation. Demand-side measures offer a greater potential (1.5–15.6 Gt CO2-eq. yr−1) in meeting both challenges than do supply-side measures (1.5–4.3 Gt CO2-eq. yr−1 at carbon prices between 20 and 100 US$ tCO2-eq. yr−1), but given the enormity of challenges, all options need to be considered. Supply-side measures should be implemented immediately, focussing on those that allow the production of more agricultural product per unit of input. For demand-side measures, given the difficulties in their implementation and lag in their effectiveness, policy should be introduced quickly, and should aim to codeliver to other policy agenda, such as improving environmental quality or improving dietary health. These problems facing humanity in the 21st Century are extremely challenging, and policy that addresses multiple objectives is required now more than ever.
Linnea I. Laestadius, Roni A. Neff, Colleen L. Barry, Shannon Frattaroli. "Meat consumption and climate change: the role of non-governmental organizations," Climatic Change, September 2013, Volume 120, Issue 1-2, pp 25-38. Abstract. The contribution of livestock production to climate change is now widely acknowledged. Despite this, efforts to reduce meat consumption in light of climate change have been relatively limited. One potential avenue for encouraging consumption changes is via non-governmental organizations (NGOs). This study used a qualitative approach to understand how and to what extent environmental, food-focused, and animal protection NGOs in the U.S., Canada, and Sweden have worked to reduce or alter domestic meat consumption in light of climate change. While almost all of the NGOs examined had mentioned the issue on their websites, few had established formal campaigns to reduce meat consumption. Active public outreach was dominated by animal protection and food-focused groups, particularly in the U.S. and Canada. Animal protection organizations advocated for larger reductions in meat consumption than environmental groups. Few NGOs sought to promote national-level polices to reduce meat consumption. There is a continued need for public education campaigns with clear messages, particularly by environmental NGOs, as well as efforts to build support for policy measures that seek to reduce meat consumption.
D. Vanhama, M.M. Mekonnenb, A.Y. Hoekstrab. "The water footprint of the EU for different diets," Ecological Indicators, Volume 32, September 2013, Pages 1–8. Abstract. In this paper, the EU28 (EU27 and Croatia) water footprint of consumption (WFcons) for different diets is analysed: the current diet (REF, period 1996–2005), a healthy diet (DGE), a vegetarian (VEG) and combined (COM) diet. By far the largest fraction of the total WFcons (4815 lcd) relates to the consumption of edible agricultural goods (84%). The average EU28 diet is characterised by a too high energy intake and a too high ratio of animal to vegetal protein intake. For a healthy diet, the intake of some product groups should be reduced (sugar, crop oils, meat and animal fats) and of other product groups increased (vegetables and fruit). Especially the consumption of animal products accounts for high WF amounts. The three alternative diets result in a substantial reduction (−974 lcd or −23% for DGE, −1292 lcd or −30% for COM, −1611 lcd or −38% for VEG) of the WFcons for agricultural products with respect to the existing situation (REF, 4265 lcd). The reduction in meat intake contributes most to the WF reduction. Each of the specific WF components (green, blue and grey) shows a reduction similar to the observed reduction in the total WFcons. Regarding the total WFcons (green, blue and grey WFcons) as well as the WFcons without the grey WF component (green + blue WFcons) for agricultural products, the EU28 shifts from net virtual water (VW) importer for the REF and DGE diets to net exporter for the COM and VEG diets.
J. A. J. Gowlet. "What actually was the stone age diet?". Journal of environmental medicine 13 (3): 143–147. Note: The relative proportions of plant and animal foods in the diets of Paleolithic people often varied between regions, with more meat being necessary in colder regions which weren't populated by anatomically modern humans until 30,000-50,000 BP.
David D. Briske , Brandon T. Bestelmeyer , Joel R. Brown , Samuel D. Fuhlendorf , and H. Wayne Polley. "The Savory Method Can Not Green Deserts or Reverse Climate Change." Rangelands, 35(5):72-74. 2013. Society for Range Management.
D. Vanhama, A.Y. Hoekstrab, G. Bidoglioa. "Potential water saving through changes in European diets," Environment International, Volume 61, November 2013, Pages 45–56. Abstract: "This study quantifies the water footprint of consumption (WFcons) regarding agricultural products for three diets – the current diet (REF), a healthy diet (HEALTHY) and a vegetarian diet (VEG) – for the four EU zones WEST, NORTH, SOUTH and EAST. The WFcons related to the consumption of agricultural products (4265 l per capita per day or lcd) accounts for 89% of the EU's total WFcons (4815 lcd). The effect of diet has therefore an essential impact on the total WFcons. The current zonal WFcons regarding agricultural products is: 5875 lcd (SOUTH), 4053 lcd (EAST), 3761 lcd (WEST) and 3197 lcd (NORTH). These differences are the result of different consumption behaviours as well as different agricultural production methods and conditions. From the perspective of a healthy diet based on regional dietary guidelines, the intake of several product groups (sugar, crop oils, animal fats and meat) should be decreased and increased for others (vegetables, fruit). The WFcons regarding agricultural products for the alternative diets are the following: HEALTHY 4110 lcd (− 30%) and VEG 3476 lcd (− 41%) for SOUTH; HEALTHY 3606 lcd (− 11%) and VEG 2956 lcd (− 27%) for EAST; HEALTHY 2766 lcd (− 26%) and VEG 2208 lcd (− 41%) for WEST; HEALTHY 3091 lcd (− 3%) and VEG 2166 lcd (− 32%) for NORTH. Both the healthy and vegetarian diets thus result – consistent for all zones – in substantial WFcons reductions. The largest reduction takes place for the vegetarian diet. Indeed, a lot of water can be saved by EU citizens by a change in their diet."
Michelle Sneed, Justin Brandt, and Mike Solt. "Land Subsidence along the Delta-Mendota Canal in the Northern Part of the San Joaquin Valley, California, 2003–10." U.S. Geological Survey, California Water Science Center; and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the San Luis and Delta-Mendota Water Authority. Scientific Investigations Report 2013-5142. Abstract: "Continued groundwater-level and land-subsidence monitoring in the San Joaquin Valley is important because (1) regulatory- and drought-related reductions in surface-water deliveries since 1976 have resulted in increased groundwater pumping and associated land subsidence, and (2) land use and associated groundwater pumping continue to change throughout the valley. The availability of surface water remains uncertain; even during record-setting precipitation years, such as 2010–11, water deliveries have fallen short of requests and groundwater pumping was required to meet the irrigation demand. Due to the expected continued demand for irrigation supply water and the limitations and uncertainty of surface-water supplies, groundwater pumping and associated land subsidence is likely to continue in the future."
Richard Oppenlander. Food Choice and Sustainability: Why Buying Local, Eating Less Meat, and Taking Baby Steps Won't Work. Langdon Street Press. 498 pages. Whereas 'Comfortably Unaware' (the first book) gives a good high level summary, this book restates the issues, gives more details, addresses the current issues, and updates statistics. It also stresses the global scope of the problem and spends more time on solutions.
C. Hoolohana, M. Berners-Leea, J. McKinstry-Westa, C.N. Hewittb. "Mitigating the greenhouse gas emissions embodied in food through realistic consumer choices," Energy Policy, Volume 63, December 2013, Pages 1065–1074. Highlights. UK-average diet embodies 8.8 kg CO2e person−1 day−1 (including avoidable waste). Eliminating meat from the diet reduces food-related GHG emissions by 35%. Changing from GHG-intensive meats to less intensive meats reduces emissions by 18%. Cutting out all avoidable food waste reduces emissions by 12%. Avoiding hot-housed food or food air-freighted to the UK reduces emissions by 5%.
Scot M. Miller, Steven C. Wofsy, Anna M. Michalak, Eric A. Kort, Arlyn E. Andrews, Sebastien C. Biraud, Edward J. Dlugokencky, Janusz Eluszkiewicz, Marc L. Fischer, Greet Janssens-Maenhout, Ben R. Miller, John B. Miller, Stephen A. Montzka, Thomas Nehrkorn, and Colm Sweeney. "Anthropogenic emissions of methane in the United States," PNAS, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 110, no. 50. Significance: "Successful regulation of greenhouse gas emissions requires knowledge of current methane emission sources. Existing state regulations in California and Massachusetts require ∼15% greenhouse gas emissions reductions from current levels by 2020. However, government estimates for total US methane emissions may be biased by 50%, and estimates of individual source sectors are even more uncertain. This study uses atmospheric methane observations to reduce this level of uncertainty. We find greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture and fossil fuel extraction and processing (i.e., oil and/or natural gas) are likely a factor of two or greater than cited in existing studies. Effective national and state greenhouse gas reduction strategies may be difficult to develop without appropriate estimates of methane emissions from these source sectors."
Mario Herrero, Petr Havlík, Hugo Valin, An Notenbaert, Mariana C. Rufino, Philip K. Thornton, Michael Blümmel, Franz Weiss, Delia Grace, and Michael Obersteiner. "Biomass use, production, feed efficiencies, and greenhouse gas emissions from global livestock systems." PNAS. vol. 110 no. 52. December 24, 2013. Abstract: "The dataset highlights: (i) feed efficiency as a key driver of productivity, resource use, and greenhouse gas emission intensities, with vast differences between production systems and animal products; (ii) the importance of grasslands as a global resource, supplying almost 50% of biomass for animals while continuing to be at the epicentre of land conversion processes; and (iii) the importance of mixed crop–livestock systems, producing the greater part of animal production (over 60%) in both the developed and the developing world."
Ripple, William J.; Pete Smith; Helmut Haberl; Stephen A. Montzka; Clive McAlpine & Douglas H. Boucher. 2014. "Ruminants, climate change and climate policy". Nature Climate Change. Volume 4 No. 1. P 2-5. Abstract: "Greenhouse gas emissions from ruminant meat production are significant. Reductions in global ruminant numbers could make a substantial contribution to climate change mitigation goals and yield important social and environmental co-benefits." Note: Meat should be taxed to encourage people to eat less of it. "Influencing human behaviour is one of the most challenging aspects of any large-scale policy, and it is unlikely that a large-scale dietary change will happen voluntarily without incentives. Implementing a tax or emission trading scheme on livestock's greenhouse gas emissions could be an economically sound policy that would modify consumer prices and affect consumption patterns."
Ronco AL, Mendilaharsu M, Boffetta P, Deneo-Pellegrini H, De Stefani E. "Meat consumption, animal products, and the risk of bladder cancer: a case-control study in Uruguayan men." Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2014;15(14):5805-9. Abstract: "In conclusion, total meat, processed meat, and eggs could play an important role in the etiology of bladder cancer in Uruguay."
Hoekstra, A.Y. "Water for animal products: a blind spot in water policy," Environmental Research Letters, 9(9): 091003. Abstract: "Most studies and practical efforts focus on increasing water-use efficiency in crop production (more crop per drop) and feed conversion efficiency in the livestock sector (more meat with less feed). Water use efficiency in the food system as a whole (more nutritional value per drop) remains a blind spot."
“The Meat Atlas” by Friends of the Earth Europe and the Heinrich Boell Foundation, says that since the current system depends on scarce land and water resources, meat and dairy production is having an increasingly devastating impact on society and the environment. Heinrich Boell Foundation president Barbara Unmüßig said: “Intensive meat production isn’t just torture for animals. It destroys the environment, and devours great chunks of our raw materials which we import from the global South as animal feed. “After China, Europe is the biggest importer of soya. Argentina and Brazil are dramatically increasing their soya cultivation, and it’s being fed almost exclusively to the animals we slaughter. Rising meat consumption is forcing up land prices,” he added. According to the report, this has devastating consequences with almost a third of the world’s land being used to grow animal feed. It also claims that small farmers are “losing their land and their livelihoods”. “That schnitzel on our plates jeopardises the food security of many people in the global South,” said Boell. According to the Meat Atlas, the increasingly intensive livestock sector is also one of the largest consumers of land and edible crops, with more than 40% of the annual output of wheat, rye, oats and maize used for animal feed, and with one third of the world’s 14 billion hectares of cultivated land used to grow it. The report highlights the significant amounts of land and resources needed to produce meat. For example, a kilo of beef requires 15,500 litres of water – the same amount required to produce 12 kilos of wheat or 118 kilos of carrots. It also claims that to make a hamburger more than 3.5 square metres of land is required. Friends of the Earth Europe senior food campaigner Adrian Bebb said: “Diet is no longer a private matter. Every time we eat, we are making a political choice, and we are impacting upon the lives of people around the world, on the environment, biodiversity and the climate. “Huge amounts of resources go into the food on our plates. Sustainable alternatives exist to the dominant destructive, corporate-controlled and intensive global system for producing and consuming meat,” added Bebb. The growing global demand for meat is a serious concern and despite European and American levels of consumption stagnating, the growing economies, such as Asia, will see around an 80% increase in demand for meat and dairy products by 2022.
You CH, Kim BG, Kim YM, Lee SA, Kim RB, Seo JW, Hong YS. "Relationship between dietary mercury intake and blood mercury level in Korea." J Korean Med Sci. Feb;29(2):176-82. Abstract: "...mercury-laden fish (tuna, shark) and frequently-eating fish (squid, belt fish, mackerel) were important in mercury intake from fish species."
Zhu HC, Yang X, Xu LP, Zhao LJ, Tao GZ, Zhang C, Qin Q, Cai J, Ma JX, Mao WD, Zhang XZ, Cheng HY, Sun XC. "Meat consumption is associated with esophageal cancer risk in a meat- and cancer-histological-type dependent manner." Dig Dis Sci. 2014 Mar; 59(3):664-73. Conslusion: "Meat consumption is associated with esophageal cancer risk, which depends on meat type and histological type of esophageal cancer. High intake of red meat and low intake of poultry are associated with an increased risk of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma. High meat intake, especially processed meat, is likely to increase esophageal adenocarcinoma risk. And fish consumption may not be associated with incidence of esophageal cancer."
Oceana. "Nine of the Dirtiest U.S. Fisheries." Washington, D.C. Oceana Report. Notes: Today, Oceana released a new report exposing nine of the dirtiest fisheries in the United States. These nine fisheries combined throw away almost half of what they catch and are responsible for more than 50 percent of all reported bycatch in the U.S., injuring and killing thousands of protected and endangered species every year. In the report titled Wasted Catch: Unsolved Bycatch Problems in U.S. Fisheries, Oceana explains that despite significant progress in the last decade, the catch of non-target fish and ocean wildlife, or “bycatch”, remains a significant problem in domestic fisheries. In fact, researchers have estimated that approximately 20 percent of the total U.S. catch is thrown away each year.
Fredrik Hedenus & Stefan Wirsenius & Daniel J. A. Johansson. "The importance of reduced meat and dairy consumptionfor meeting stringent climate change targets." Climatic Change (2014) 124:79–91. Published online: 28 March. “We find that baseline agricultural CO2-equivalent emissions (using Global Warming Potentials with a 100 year time horizon) will be approximately 13 Gton CO2eq/year in 2070, compared to 7.1 Gton CO2eq/year 2000. However, if faster growth in livestock productivity is combined with dedicated technical mitigation measures, emissions may be kept to 7.7 Gton CO2eq/year in 2070. If structural changes in human diets are included, emissions may be reduced further, to 3–5 Gton CO2eq/year in 2070. The total annual emissions for meeting the 2 °C target with a chance above 50 % is in the order of 13 Gton CO2eq/year or less in 2070, for all sectors combined. We conclude that reduced ruminant meat and dairy consumption will be indispensable for reaching the 2 °C target with a high probability, unless unprecedented advances in technology take place.”
Kevin M. Cooper, Connor McMahon, Ian Fairweather, and Christopher T. Elliott. "Potential impacts of climate change on veterinary medicinal residues in livestock produce: An island of Ireland perspective." Trends in Food Science & Technology. Available online 26 March 2014. In Press. Highlights: "Veterinary medicine use is predicted to increase as disease burdens increase due to varied climate effects. Locally relevant mitigation and adaptation strategies are suggested to ensure climate change does not adversely affect food safety via increasing drug residues."
Dickie, A., Streck, C., Roe, S., Zurek, M., Haupt, F., Dolginow, A. in “Strategies for Mitigating Climate Change in Agriculture: Recommendations for Philanthropy,” a report by Climate Focus and California Environmental Associates. Annual carbon emissions from global agriculture can be reduced by as much as 50 to 90 percent by 2030—the equivalent of removing all the cars in the world. The study highlights twelve key strategies—led by reduced global beef consumption, reduced food waste and better farm nutrient management and production—that can deliver big climate wins while maintaining food security and building resilience. The report finds that 70 percent of direct greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture come from livestock, in particular from cows, sheep and other grazing animals. Much of these emissions could be eliminated if beef demand were reduced, particularly in two countries: the U.S., currently the world's biggest consumers of red meat, and China, where demand for beef is set to rise rapidly, influenced by western culture, the country's consumers are poised to ramp up their red meat consumption by 116% by 2050. "There's no way around it," said Streck. "Cows are incredibly inefficient food sources. They eat an enormous amount of feed and require a lot of land and water resources. Pigs, chickens and sustainably caught or raised fish, not to mention non-meat proteins are so much better for the climate—and healthier for people as well."
Battaglin WA, Meyer MT, Kuivila KM, and Dietze JE. "Glyphosate and Its Degradation Product AMPA Occur Frequently and Widely in U.S. Soils, Surface Water, Groundwater, and Precipitation." Journal of the American Water Resources Association (JAWRA) 2014, 50, 275-290. Abstract: Glyphosate use in the United States increased from less than 5,000 to more than 80,000 metric tons/yr between 1987 and 2007. Glyphosate is popular due to its ease of use on soybean, cotton, and corn crops that are genetically modified to tolerate it, utility in no-till farming practices, utility in urban areas, and the perception that it has low toxicity and little mobility in the environment. This compilation is the largest and most comprehensive assessment of the environmental occurrence of glyphosate and aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA) in the United States conducted to date, summarizing the results of 3,732 water and sediment and 1,018 quality assurance samples collected between 2001 and 2010 from 38 states. Results indicate that glyphosate and AMPA are usually detected together, mobile, and occur widely in the environment. Glyphosate was detected without AMPA in only 2.3% of samples, whereas AMPA was detected without glyphosate in 17.9% of samples. Glyphosate and AMPA were detected frequently in soils and sediment, ditches and drains, precipitation, rivers, and streams; and less frequently in lakes, ponds, and wetlands; soil water; and groundwater. Concentrations of glyphosate were below the levels of concern for humans or wildlife; however, pesticides are often detected in mixtures. Ecosystem effects of chronic low-level exposures to pesticide mixtures are uncertain. The environmental health risk of low-level detections of glyphosate, AMPA, and associated adjuvants and mixtures remain to be determined.
UN Economic Commission for Europe, European Nitrogen Assessment Special Report on Nitrogen and Food, “Nitrogen on the table: pollution, climate and land use”, quantifies for the first time how much our food choices affect pollutant nitrogen emissions, climate change and land use across Europe. “The report shows that the nitrogen footprint of meat and dairy is considerably higher than that from plant-based products. If all people within the EU would halve their meat and dairy consumption, this would reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture by 25 to 40%, and nitrogen emissions by 40%.The EU could become a major exporter of food products, instead of a major importer of for example soy beans.”
Harry Aiking. "Protein production: planet, profit, plus people?" Am J Clin Nutr, May 28, 2014. Abstract. Food sustainability and food security are increasingly in the spotlight and increasingly intertwined. According to some projections we will need to nearly double food production in the next 4 decades. This article argues that protein production and consumption are pivotal to sustainability, because anthropogenic contributions to the nitrogen cycle are 100–200% compared with a contribution of 1–2% to the carbon cycle by mineral fuel combustion, with biodiversity as the main casualty. Because 1 kg animal protein requires ∼6 kg plant protein, its large-scale production by means of factory farming is a major driver of biodiversity loss, climate change, and freshwater depletion. Furthermore, intensive livestock production is associated with antibiotics resistance and increasing incidence of emerging diseases. Therefore, a “reversed” diet transition back to less animal protein could make a difference. Some European countries, such as the United Kingdom, Sweden, and The Netherlands, have published integrated policy reports addressing food security, sustainability, and health combined. The food industry is focusing on food safety and increasingly on sustainability. An important issue is consumer communication, because consumer “framing” is radically different from that of governmental and industrial policy makers. There is no “one size fits all.” A huge range of differences exists between countries and between distinct groups of consumers within countries; getting consumers to change their diets in a more sustainable direction is likely to require much more than gentle nudging. National governments and the United Nations should assume their responsibilities and initiate a global strategy integrating sustainability, food security, nutrition, and equity. To date, the profit pillar of sustainability has taken precedence over planet and people. It is time to redress the balance.
Essi A. E. Korkala, Timo T. Hugg, Jouni J. K. Jaakkola. “Awareness of Climate Change and the Dietary Choices of Young Adults in Finland: A Population-Based Cross-Sectional Study.” PLoS ONE 9(5). Abstract. Climate change is a major public health threat that is exacerbated by food production. Food items differ substantially in the amount of greenhouse gases their production generates and therefore individuals, if willing, can mitigate climate change through dietary choices. We conducted a population-based cross-sectional study to assess if the understanding of climate change, concern over climate change or socio-economic characteristics are reflected in the frequencies of climate-friendly food choices. The study population comprised 1623 young adults in Finland who returned a self-administered questionnaire (response rate 64.0%). We constructed a Climate-Friendly Diet Score (CFDS) ranging theoretically from −14 to 14 based on the consumption of 14 food items. A higher CFDS indicated a climate-friendlier diet. Multivariate linear regression analyses on the determinants of CFDS revealed that medium concern raised CFDS on average by 0.51 points (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.03, 0.98) and high concern by 1.30 points (95% CI 0.80, 1.80) compared to low concern. Understanding had no effect on CFDS on its own. Female gender raised CFDS by 1.92 (95% CI 1.59, 2.25). Unemployment decreased CFDS by 0.92 (95% CI −1.68, −0.15). Separate analyses of genders revealed that high concern over climate change brought about a greater increase in CFDS in females than in males. Good understanding of climate change was weakly connected to climate-friendly diet among females only. Our results indicate that increasing awareness of climate change could lead to increased consumption of climate-friendly food, reduction in GHG emissions, and thus climate change mitigation.
Oxfam. "Standing on the Sidelines: Why food and beverage companies must do more to tackle climate change." Oxfam Briefing Paper 186. May 20, 2014. Note: If the world’s 10 largest food producers were a country, that country would be the world’s 25th largest emitter of greenhouse gases (GHGs), pumping out more pollutants than Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and Norway — combined. The total of 263.7 million tons per year includes GHG emissions all along the food companies’ supply chains and global operations. The 10 companies include Associated British Foods, Coca-Cola, Danone, General Mills, Kellogg, Mars, Mondelez, Nestle, Pepsi, and Unilever.
P Scarborough, A Mizdrak, ADM Briggs, PN Appleby, RC Travis, KE Bradbury, and TJ Key. “Dietary greenhouse gas emissions of meat-eaters, fish-eaters, vegetarians and vegans in the UK”, Climatic Change, 125:179-192. The diets of 2,041 vegans, 15,751 vegetarians, 8,123 fish-eaters and 29,589 meat-eaters aged 20-79 were assessed using a validated food frequency questionnaire. The average GHG emissions associated with a standard 2,000 kcal diet were estimated for all subjects. GHG emissions in kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalents per day (kgCOe/day) were 7.19 for high meat-eaters (> = 100 g/d), 5.63 for medium meat-eaters (50-99 g/d), 4.67 for low meat-eaters (< 50 g/d), 3.9 for fish-eaters, 3.81 for vegetarians and 2.89 for vegans. In conclusion, dietary GHG emissions in self-selected meat-eaters are approximately twice as high as those in vegans.
Joan Sabaté and Sam Soret. "Sustainability of plant-based diets: back to the future," Am J Clin Nutr 2014 ajcn.071522. Abstract. Plant-based diets in comparison to diets rich in animal products are more sustainable because they use many fewer natural resources and are less taxing on the environment. Given the global population explosion and increase in wealth, there is an increased demand for foods of animal origin. Environmental data are rapidly accumulating on the unsustainability of current worldwide food consumption practices that are high in meat and dairy products. Natural nonrenewable resources are becoming scarce, and environmental degradation is rapidly increasing. At the current trends of food consumption and environmental changes, food security and food sustainability are on a collision course. Changing course (to avoid the collision) will require extreme downward shifts in meat and dairy consumption by large segments of the world's population. Other approaches such as food waste reduction and precision agriculture and/or other technological advances have to be simultaneously pursued; however, they are insufficient to make the global food system sustainable. For millennia, meatless diets have been advocated on the basis of values, and large segments of the world population have thrived on plant-based diets. “Going back” to plant-based diets worldwide seems to be a reasonable alternative for a sustainable future. Policies in favor of the global adoption of plant-based diets will simultaneously optimize the food supply, health, environmental, and social justice outcomes for the world's population. Implementing such nutrition policy is perhaps one of the most rational and moral paths for a sustainable future of the human race and other living creatures of the biosphere that we share.
Claus Leitzmann. “Vegetarian nutrition: past, present, future,” Am J Clin Nutr 2014 ajcn.071365; First published online June 4, 2014. Abstract. Early human food cultures were plant-based. Major religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism have recommended a vegetarian way of life since their conception. The recorded history of vegetarian nutrition started in the sixth century BC by followers of the Orphic mysteries. The Greek philosopher Pythagoras is considered the father of ethical vegetarianism. The Pythagorean way of life was followed by a number of important personalities and influenced vegetarian nutrition until the 19th century. In Europe, vegetarian nutrition more or less disappeared during the Middle Ages. In the Renaissance era and in the Age of Enlightenment, various personalities practiced vegetarianism. The first vegetarian society was started in England in 1847. The International Vegetarian Society was founded in 1908 and the first vegan society began in 1944. Prominent vegetarians during this time included Sylvester Graham, John Harvey Kellogg, and Maximilian Bircher-Benner. A paradigm shift occurred at the turn of the 21st century. The former prejudices that vegetarianism leads to malnutrition were replaced by scientific evidence showing that vegetarian nutrition reduces the risk of most contemporary diseases. Today, vegetarian nutrition has a growing international following and is increasingly accepted. The main reasons for this trend are health concerns and ethical, ecologic, and social issues. The future of vegetarian nutrition is promising because sustainable nutrition is crucial for the well-being of humankind. An increasing number of people do not want animals to suffer nor do they want climate change; they want to avoid preventable diseases and to secure a livable future for generations to come.
Mandair D, Rossi RE, Pericleous M, Whyand T, Caplin ME. "Prostate cancer and the influence of dietary factors and supplements: a systematic review." Nutr Metab (Lond). 2014 Jun 16;11:30. Abstract: "Prostate cancer is the second most common cause of cancer worldwide after lung cancer. Red meat, dietary fat and milk intake should be minimised as they appear to increase the risk of prostate cancer."
Goodland, Robert. "A fresh look at livestock greenhouse gas emissions and mitigation potential in Europe. Global Change Biology. Volume 20, Issue 7, pages 2042-2044. Notes: The only way for most economic sectors to achieve GHG reduction on a large scale is by using renewable energy and energy efficiency. The livestock sector is a notable exception, as most of its GHG emissions are not from energy usage, but from biological processes. Therefore, it is easier – and especially important – to achieve a large and rapid GHG reduction from the livestock sector. The objective of recent international climate treaty negotiations has been to reduce GHG emissions by about 13% by 2017. If, as our analysis shows, at least 51% of anthropogenic GHGs are attributable to livestock, then the treaty objective could be met by replacing about 25% of today’s livestock products with alternatives by 2017. Paradoxically, if livestock GHGs are actually at the lower level of 18% of anthropogenic GHGs that Steinfeld et al. assert they are, then replacing about two-thirds of today’s livestock products with alternatives by 2017 would be required to achieve the treaty target.
Julia Chatterton, Anil Graves, Eric Audsley, Joe Morris, Adrian Williams. "Using systems-based life cycle assessment to investigate the environmental and economic impacts and benefits of the livestock sector in the UK." Journal of Cleaner Production. Available online 15 July 2014. In Press. Abstract: "The livestock industry is a significant component of the agricultural and rural sectors in the UK. Grassland for livestock accounts for almost half of the terrestrial surface of the UK and almost two-thirds of its managed agricultural land."
M Jalava, et al. "Diet change—a solution to reduce water use?" Environmental Research Letters Volume 9, Number 7. Abstract: "Water and land resources are under increasing pressure in many parts of the globe. Diet change has been suggested as a measure to contribute to adequate food security for the growing population. This paper assesses the impact of diet change on the blue and green water footprints of food consumption. We first compare the water consumption of the current diets with that of a scenario where dietary guidelines are followed. Then, we assess these footprints by applying four scenarios in which we gradually limit the amount of protein from animal products to 50%, 25%, 12.5% and finally 0% of the total protein intake. We find that the current water use at the global scale would be sufficient to secure a recommended diet and worldwide energy intake. Reducing the animal product contribution in the diet would decrease global green water consumption by 6%, 11%, 15% and 21% within the four applied scenarios, while for blue water, the reductions would be 4%, 6%, 9% and 14%. In Latin America, Europe, Central and Eastern Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, diet change mainly reduces green water use, while in the Middle East region, North America, Australia and Oceania, both blue and green water footprints decrease considerably. At the same time, in South and Southeast Asia, diet change does not result in decreased water use. Our results show that reducing animal products in the human diet offers the potential to save water resources, up to the amount currently required to feed 1.8 billion additional people globally; however, our results show that the adjustments should be considered on a local level."
Paul C. West, James S. Gerber, Peder M. Engstrom, Nathaniel D. Mueller, Kate A. Brauman, Kimberly M. Carlson, Emily S. Cassidy, Matt Johnston, Graham K. MacDonald, Deepak K. Ray, and Stefan Siebert. "Leverage points for improving global food security and the environment." Science 18 July 2014: Vol. 345 no. 6194 pp. 325-328. Note: The crop calories we currently feed to animals are sufficient to meet the calorie needs of 4 billion people. The study noted that the U.S., China and Western Europe account for the bulk of this “diet gap,” with corn the main crop being diverted to animal feed. Although cultural preferences and politics limit the ability to change this picture, the authors note that shifting crops from animal feed to human food could serve as a “safety net” when weather or pests create shortages.
Gidon Eshel, Alon Shepon, Tamar Makov, and Ron Milo. "Land, irrigation water, greenhouse gas, and reactive nitrogen burdens of meat, eggs, and dairy production in the United States." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, August 19, 2014 vol. 111 no. 33. Significance: "Livestock-based food production is an important and pervasive way humans impact the environment. It causes about one-fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions, and is the key land user and source of water pollution by nutrient overabundance. It also competes with biodiversity, and promotes species extinctions. Empowering consumers to make choices that mitigate some of these impacts through devising and disseminating numerically sound information is thus a key socio-environmental priority. Unfortunately, currently available knowledge is incomplete and hampered by reliance on divergent methodologies that afford no general comparison of relative impacts of animal-based products. To overcome these hurdles, we introduce a methodology that facilitates such a comparison. We show that minimizing beef consumption mitigates the environmental costs of diet most effectively."
Bojana Bajželj, Keith S. Richards, Julian M. Allwood, Pete Smith, John S. Dennis, Elizabeth Curmi & Christopher A. Gilligan. "Importance of food-demand management for climate mitigation." Nature Climate Change 4, 924–929 (2014). Abstract: "Recent studies show that current trends in yield improvement will not be sufficient to meet projected global food demand in 2050, and suggest that a further expansion of agricultural area will be required. However, agriculture is the main driver of losses of biodiversity and a major contributor to climate change and pollution, and so further expansion is undesirable. The usual proposed alternative—intensification with increased resource use—also has negative effects. It is therefore imperative to find ways to achieve global food security without expanding crop or pastureland and without increasing greenhouse gas emissions. Some authors have emphasized a role for sustainable intensification in closing global ‘yield gaps’ between the currently realized and potentially achievable yields. However, in this paper we use a transparent, data-driven model, to show that even if yield gaps are closed, the projected demand will drive further agricultural expansion. There are, however, options for reduction on the demand side that are rarely considered. In the second part of this paper we quantify the potential for demand-side mitigation options, and show that improved diets and decreases in food waste are essential to deliver emissions reductions, and to provide global food security in 2050."
Hank Rothgerber. "Efforts to overcome vegetarian-induced dissonance among meat eaters." Appetite Volume 79, 1 August 2014, Pages 32–41. Abstract
"Meat eaters face dissonance whether it results from inconsistency (“I eat meat; I don’t like to hurt animals”), aversive consequences (“I eat meat; eating meat harms animals”), or threats to self image (“I eat meat; compassionate people don’t hurt animals”). The present work proposes that there are a number of strategies that omnivores adopt to reduce this dissonance including avoidance, dissociation, perceived behavioral change, denial of animal pain, denial of animal mind, pro-meat justifications, reducing perceived choice, and actual behavioral change. The presence of vegetarians was speculated to cause meat eating to be a scrutinized behavior, remind meat eaters of their discomfort, and undermine the effectiveness of these strategies. It was therefore hypothesized that exposure to a description of a vegetarian would lead omnivores to embrace dissonance-reducing strategies. Supporting this hypothesis, participants who read a vignette about a vegetarian denied animal mind more than participants who read about a gluten-free individual. It was also hypothesized that omnivores would be sensitive to individual differences between vegetarians and would demonstrate using dissonance-reducing strategies more when the situation failed to provide cognitions consonant with eating meat or to reduce dissonant cognitions. Four experiments supported this prediction and found that authentic vegetarians, vegetarians freely making the decision to abandon meat, consistent vegetarians, and anticipating moral reproach from vegetarians produced greater endorsement of dissonance-reducing strategies than their counterpart conditions."
William R. L. Anderegg, Elizabeth S. Callaway, Maxwell T. Boykoff, Gary Yohe, and Terr y L. Root, 2014: "Awareness of Both Type 1 and 2 Errors in Climate Science and Assessment." Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 95, 1445–1451. Abstract: "Treatment of error and uncertainty is an essential component of science and is crucial in policy-relevant disciplines, such as climate science. We posit here that awareness of both “false positive” and “false negative” errors is particularly critical in climate science and assessments, such as those of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Scientific and assessment practices likely focus more attention to avoiding false positives, which could lead to higher prevalence of false-negative errors. We explore here the treatment of error avoidance in two prominent case studies regarding sea level rise and Himalayan glacier melt as presented in the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. While different decision rules are necessarily appropriate for different circumstances, we highlight that false-negative errors also have consequences, including impaired communication of the risks of climate change."
Ali Daneshi, Abbas Esmaili-sari, Mohammad Daneshi, and Henrikke Baumann. "Greenhouse gas emissions of packaged fluid milk production in Tehran." Journal of Cleaner Production, Volume 80, 1 October 2014, Pages 150–158. Abstract: "The main contributors to overall carbon footprint (CF) of milk product were enteric methane 30%, electricity 14%, diesel 8.9%, manure emissions 8.8% and transportations 8.6%. The average CF of FPCM at farm gate was higher than the previous European reports, but lower than the previous estimate of 3–5 kg CO2-eq/kg milk."
Michaëlsson Karl, Wolk Alicja, Langenskiöld Sophie, Basu Samar, Warensjö Lemming Eva, Melhus Håkan et al. "Milk intake and risk of mortality and fractures in women and men: cohort studies." BMJ (British Medical Journal) 2014; 349:g6015. Conclusions: "High milk intake was associated with higher mortality in one cohort of women and in another cohort of men, and with higher fracture incidence in women."
Valentín D. Picasso, Pablo D. Modernel, Gonzalo Becoña, Lucía Salvo, Lucía Gutiérrez, and Laura Astigarraga. "Sustainability of meat production beyond carbon footprint: a synthesis of case studies from grazing systems in Uruguay." Meat Science, Volume 98, Issue 3, November 2014, Pages 346–354. Meat Science, Sustainability & Innovation: ‘60th International Congress of Meat Science and Technology 17-22 August 2014, Punta del Este, Uruguay. Abstract: "Livestock production has been challenged as a large contributor to climate change, and carbon footprint has become a widely used measure of cattle environmental impact. This analysis of fifteen beef grazing systems in Uruguay quantifies the range of variation of carbon footprint, and the trade-offs with other relevant environmental variables, using a partial life cycle assessment (LCA) methodology. Using carbon footprint as the primary environmental indicator has several limitations: different metrics (GWP vs. GTP) may lead to different conclusions, carbon sequestration from soils may drastically affect the results, and systems with lower carbon footprint may have higher energy use, soil erosion, nutrient imbalance, pesticide ecotoxicity, and impact on biodiversity."
Linnea I. Laestadius, Roni A. Neff, Colleen L. Barry, and Shannon Frattaroli. “We don’t tell people what to do”: An examination of the factors influencing NGO decisions to campaign for reduced meat consumption in light of climate change." Global Environmental Change, Volume 29, November 2014, Pages 32–40. Highlights: "Non-governmental organizations face barriers to campaigning for less meat in diets; Meat consumption and climate change is outside core missions of many organizations; Many environmental organizations prefer tactics other than behavior change promotion; Social and political contexts of both meat and climate change shape engagement."
Tilman D and Clark M. "Global diets link environmental sustainability and human health." Nature. 2014 Nov 12. doi: 10.1038/nature13959. [Epub ahead of print] Abstract: "Diets link environmental and human health. Rising incomes and urbanization are driving a global dietary transition in which traditional diets are replaced by diets higher in refined sugars, refined fats, oils and meats. By 2050 these dietary trends, if unchecked, would be a major contributor to an estimated 80 per cent increase in global agricultural greenhouse gas emissions from food production and to global land clearing. Moreover, these dietary shifts are greatly increasing the incidence of type II diabetes, coronary heart disease and other chronic non-communicable diseases that lower global life expectancies. Alternative diets that offer substantial health benefits could, if widely adopted, reduce global agricultural greenhouse gas emissions, reduce land clearing and resultant species extinctions, and help prevent such diet-related chronic non-communicable diseases. The implementation of dietary solutions to the tightly linked diet-environment-health trilemma is a global challenge, and opportunity, of great environmental and public health importance."
Dario Caro, Anna LoPresti, Steven J Davis, Simone Bastianoni and Ken Caldeira. "CH4 and N2O emissions embodied in international trade of meat." 2014 Environ. Res. Lett. 9 114005. Abstract: Although previous studies have quantified carbon dioxide emissions embodied in products traded internationally, there has been limited attention to other greenhouse gases such as methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O). Following IPCC guidelines, we estimate non-CO2 emissions from beef, pork and chicken produced in 237 countries over the period 1990–2010, and assign these emissions to the country where the meat is ultimately consumed. We find that, between 1990 and 2010, an average of 32.8 Mt CO2-eq emissions (using 100 year global warming potentials) are embodied in beef, pork and chicken traded internationally. Further, over the 20 year period, the quantity of CO2-eq emissions embodied in traded meat increased by 19%. The largest trade flows of emissions embodied in meat were from Brazil and Argentina to Russia (2.8 and 1.4 Mt of CO2-eq, respectively). Trade flows within the European region are also substantial: beef and pork exported from France embodied 3.3 Mt and 0.4 Mt of CO2-eq, respectively. Emissions factor of meat production (i.e. CO2-eq emissions per kg of meat) produced depend on ambient temperature, development level, livestock category (e.g. cattle, pork, and chicken) and livestock management practices. Thus, trade may result in an overall increase of GHG emissions when meat-consuming countries import meat from countries with a greater emissions intensity of meat production rather than producing the meat domestically. Comparing the emissions intensity of meat production of trading partners, we assess trade flows according to whether they tend to reduce or increase global emissions from meat production.
Rob Bailey, Antony Froggatt and Laura Wellesley. "Livestock – Climate Change’s Forgotten Sector: Global Public Opinion on Meat and Dairy Consumption." Energy, Environment and Resources. Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs. December 2014. Findings: "Compared with other sectors, recognition of the livestock sector as a significant contributor to climate change is markedly low. Climate change is generally secondary to immediate considerations of taste, price, health and food safety in shaping food choices... there is a striking paucity of efforts to reduce consumption of meat and dairy products. A number of factors, not least fear of backlash, have made governments and environmental groups reluctant to pursue policies or campaigns to shift consumer behaviour. The lack of attention afforded to the issue among policy-makers and opinion-formers contributes to a lack of research on how best to reduce meat and dairy consumption. Consumers with a higher level of awareness were more likely to indicate willingness to reduce their meat and dairy consumption for climate objectives. Closing the awareness gap is therefore likely to be an important precondition for behaviour change. Those actors most trusted to inform consumers on the links between livestock and climate change are generally ‘experts’ and environmental groups." http://tinyurl.com/kqqjkda
Adrian Schilt, Edward J. Brook, Thomas K. Bauska, Daniel Baggenstos, Hubertus Fischer, Fortunat Joos, Vasilii V. Petrenko, Hinrich Schaefer, Jochen Schmitt, Jeffrey P. Severinghaus, Renato Spahni & Thomas F. Stocker. "Isotopic constraints on marine and terrestrial N2O emissions during the last deglaciation." Nature 516, 234–237 (11 December 2014). Summary: This paper presents reconstructions of atmospheric nitrous oxide concentration and its nitrogen and oxygen isotopic composition during the last deglaciation, a time when the atmospheric concentration of this greenhouse gas and ozone-depleting substance increased by 30%.