Reducing the environmental impact of global diets

TitleReducing the environmental impact of global diets
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsSwain M, Blomqvist L, McNamara J, Ripple W.J.
JournalScience of the Total Environment

It is well established in the literature that reducing the amount of meat in global diets would reduce the environmental impacts of food production. However, changes to livestock production systems also have significant potential to reduce environmental impacts from meat production, and yet are not as widely discussed in the literature. Modern, intensive livestock systems, especially for beef, offer substantially lower land requirements and greenhouse gas emissions per kilogram of meat than traditional, extensive ones. The land sparing potential of beef sector intensification is especially relevant for high priority conservation regions like the Brazilian Amazon. Leveraging livestock production systems in addition to dietary change greatly expands the opportunity to achieve conservation and climate goals in the coming decades.

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