In the face of growing threats from climate change, the global community must change its dietary practices, a UN report says. Diets rich in meat and dairy are unsustainable, per the report produced by the United Nations Environment’s Programme (UNEP). The report was issued some time ago, but has resurfaced as the environmental impacts of large-scale meat and dairy production become of growing concern to policy makers.

Felicity Carus (@FelicityCarus) writes an important piece for The Guardian:

It says: “Impacts from agriculture are expected to increase substantially due to population growth increasing consumption of animal products. Unlike fossil fuels, it is difficult to look for alternatives: people have to eat. A substantial reduction of impacts would only be possible with a substantial worldwide diet change, away from animal products.”

Affluence has been driving increased meat and dairy consumption.


Achim Steiner, the UN under-secretary general and executive director of the UNEP, said: “Decoupling growth from environmental degradation is the number one challenge facing governments in a world of rising numbers of people, rising incomes, rising consumption demands and the persistent challenge of poverty alleviation.”

The full report is available here.

While The Guardian piece doesn’t discuss it, there has been heated discussion in the United States around the proposed 2015 Dietary Guidelines. A panel of nutrition experts generated controversy when it explicitly linked environmental health with human health by recommending that the nation’s dietary guidelines consider environmental sustainability. The non-binding recommendations are open to public comment; they will then be decided upon by the USDA and Health and Human Services.

The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee expressed concern about the effect of the American diet on the environment, including air and water quality, and the release of too many greenhouse gas emissions


Related Links:

Vilsack: Dietary guidelines about health, not environment

U.S. may consider environment in dietary guidelines