The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
WWF: 60% of Global Biodiversity Loss Due to Land Cleared for Meat-Based Diets
A lot has been said about the many links between the food on our plates to climate change. But a new report from the World Wildlife Fund UK (WWF) highlights how the livestock industry also gobbles up a massive amount of land, leading to wide-scale biodiversity loss.
Producing the animal feed for meat- and dairy-heavy Western diets uses up a lot of the planet's precious resources. Simply put, the more animal products we eat, the more feed we need to produce, but growing the crops used for that feed—such as soy and corn—eats up land, the Appetite for Destruction report notes.
"Today, protein-rich soy is such an important feed ingredient that the average European consumes approximately 61kg (134lbs) of soy per year, largely indirectly through the animal products that they eat like chicken, pork, salmon, cheese, milk and eggs," the report from the UK-based conservation group states.
Not only that, these crops are usually produced in some of the planet's most valuable and vulnerable areas such as the Amazon, Cerrado, Congo Basin, Yangtze, Mekong, Himalayas and the Deccan Plateau forests.
"Many of these high-risk regions already suffer significant pressure on land and water resources, are not adequately covered by conservation schemes," the report points out. "The growing demand for livestock products and the associated intensification and agricultural expansion threaten the biodiversity of these areas and the resource and water security of their inhabitants, as well as the stability of our food supply."
In all, meat-based diets can be linked to 60 percent of global biodiversity loss, the WWF found.
"The world is consuming more animal protein than it needs and this is having a devastating effect on wildlife," WWF food policy manager Duncan Williamson explained to the Guardian. "A staggering 60 percent of global biodiversity loss is down to the food we eat. We know a lot of people are aware that a meat-based diet has an impact on water and land, as well as causing greenhouse gas emissions, but few know the biggest issue of all comes from the crop-based feed the animals eat."
On a positive note, the report states it is possible—and essential—to change our food production systems and consumption patterns for the betterment of the planet and its inhabitants.
At the end of the report, the WWF suggests six "Livewell" principles that form the basis of a sustainable diet that's good for your health and the Earth's health: 1. Eat more plants; 2. Eat a variety of foods, 3. Waste less food; 4. Moderate your meat consumption; 5. Buy food that meets a credible certified standard; and 6. Eat fewer foods that are high in fat, salt and sugar.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Alina Petre, MS, RD (CA)
Veganism refers to a way of living that attempts to minimize animal exploitation and cruelty. For this reason, vegans aim to exclude all foods containing meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy and honey from their diet (1).
'Finally!': Court Orders EPA to Stop Stalling Potential Ban on Pesticide Tied to Brain Damage in Kids
By Jessica Corbett
In a ruling welcomed by public health advocates, a federal court on Friday ordered the Trump administration to stop stalling a potential ban on a pesticide linked to brain damage in children, giving regulators until mid-July to make a final decision.
At EcoWatch, our team knows that changing personal habits and taking actions that contribute to a better planet is an ongoing journey. Earth Day, happening on April 22, is a great reminder for all of us to learn more about the environmental costs of our behaviors like food waste or fast fashion.
To offer readers some inspiration this Earth Day, our team rounded up their top picks for films to watch. So, sit back and take in one of these documentary films this Earth Day. Maybe it will spark a small change you can make in your own life.
By Shuchi Talati
Solar geoengineering describes a set of approaches that would reflect sunlight to cool the planet. The most prevalent of these approaches entails mimicking volcanic eruptions by releasing aerosols (tiny particles) into the upper atmosphere to reduce global temperatures — a method that comes with immense uncertainty and risk. We don't yet know how it will affect regional weather patterns, and in turn its geopolitical consequences. One way we can attempt to understand potential outcomes is through models.
By Julia Conley
Green groups on Saturday celebrated the latest federal ruling aimed at preventing President Donald Trump from rolling back environmental regulations that were put in place by his predecessor.
By Tim Radford
Scientists have identified yet another hazard linked to the thawing permafrost: laughing gas. A series of flights over the North Slope of Alaska has detected unexpected levels of emissions of the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide from the rapidly warming soils.