The solution long ignored: The UN Pushes for a Diet Devoid of Meat and Dairy

by Demetrios.C.Orton.Hatzis on January 29, 2017 - 9:43am

A summary of:

UN urges Global move to meat and dairy free diet

Written by: Felicity Carus

June 2nd 2010

The Guardian


“Unlike fossil fuels, it is difficult to look for alternatives: people have to eat.” Explains the 2010 UNEP report, Assessing the Environmental Impacts of Consumption And Production, when discussing the troubles with dealing with the multitude of worrying problems of livestock raising. Among those, the high levels of greenhouse gas emissions released, the large amount of fresh water and animal feed and land required, and the lack of appealing solutions.  The report continues by adding, “A substantial reduction of impacts would only be possible with a substantial worldwide diet change, away from animal products."

The report names “western tastes for diets rich in meat and dairy products” as unsustainable. In addition, it raises concerns about the connection between rising affluence and the shift to a high meat high dairy diet, citing, “Environmental impacts rise roughly 80% with a doubling of income.”

Furthermore, “[t]he panel of experts ranked products, resources, economic activities and transport according to their environmental impacts. Agriculture was on a par with fossil fuel consumption because both rise rapidly with increased economic growth.”

The rapid growth can be cause for concern as “[a]griculture, particularly meat and dairy products, accounts for 70% of global freshwater consumption, 38% of the total land use and 19% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions” and predictions indicate that to account for the 9.1 billion people living in the world by 2050, “food production would have to increase globally by 70%.” The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, adds that any “efficiency gains in agriculture will be overwhelmed by the expected population growth.”

The solution of Lord Nicholas Stern, a past adviser to the Labour government on the economics of climate change, is for a global vegetarian diet, to curb animal rearing costs. Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, Chair of UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has urged people to cut meat from their diet for simply one meal a weak. 


Aside; The Guardian is a reputable British daily new news source, with a formidable range of reporting, opinion pieces and news stories. Felicity Carus specialises in clean energy policy and finance, and renewable technology, who held the Environment desk at The Guardian. She writes a number of news reports on the Environmental world and Green Businesses.

            Often times Climate change can seem daunting and larger than life, and for this reason it can be hard to take immediate and obvious action. The little things, like recycling and reusing or repairing the old and broken, and the importance behind them can get lost in obscurity. However, it is now clear that a meaningful way to help slow and stop Climate Change is to adopt a more beneficial diet and spread the word. Perhaps a more obvious path, albeit challenging, will make meaningful environmental action more approachable to the average person.

For those interested in learning more, or who want a more in depth look feel free to visit the actual UNEP report: UNEP REPORT

About the author

I am a CEGEP (kinda like Quebec's College) student, 4th semester, was born and raised in and around Montreal, am very opinionated and raring to start any kind of ideological back and forth, could probably argue my way out of a metal box, and have at least a few years experience skeptically eyeing