“Paris Agreement Portends A Reckoning For Meat And Dairy” writes Jeff McMahon on the Forbes website. Depending on how it’s calculated, the meat and dairy industries are estimated to contribute between 14.4% and 51% of total greenhouse gas emissions. For the nearly 200 countries who committed to a global emissions target, it will be challenging to achieve their targets unless consumption patterns change. The industry might be able to achieve some emissions reductions through measures such as growing feed on site or better manure management, but this will not be enough. We will have to eat fewer animal products.
The Forbes article quotes Peter Singer:
The kind of secret source of greenhouse emissions that no politicians are talking about at the moment are the emissions that come from the livestock industry
But not just politicians stay mute on the issue, Singer said that even environmental groups have been reluctant to challenge meat consumption:
Some of those organizations are clearly worried that they’ll lose members and supporters who may be prepared to switch to a Prius or maybe even to ride a bike under some circumstances but are not ready to contemplate going vegan or vegetarian
The success of the meat industry’s lobbying is evident in the just released 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Contrary to the guidance provided last year by the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, a group of experts, reference to sustainable eating patterns for good health is not included. Further, the new guidelines do not reflect the evidence about the harmful health effects of red and processed meat.
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) sums up what’s good and what’s bad in the new guidelines:
The Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee is available online. It’s based on evidence and free to use for anyone seeking sound advice on dietary matters.
Despite a lack of government support – and not just in the U.S. – people are slowly getting the message that cutting down on the consumption of animal products is good for the planet and for human health. And it’s the ethical choice. Hence, the meat substitutes market is expected to grow to USD 5.17 billion by 2020, at a compound annual growth rate of 6.4% between 2015 and 2020.
And it’s not only vegetarians and vegans who are cutting down on meat. The market for vegetarian meats is being largely driven by non-vegetarians.
Die Welt, a German newspaper, reports that the first hospital in Hamburg now offers vegan options. At a price. The Schön Klinik in Eilbek offers smoothies as well as completely vegetarian and vegan meals (most other hospitals in Hamburg offer vegetarian, but not vegan meals). In addition, there is now a bistro with vegan snacks. And it’s due to patient demand. Approximately 10% of patients, mostly women, choose the vegan options. Doesn’t it make sense for a hospital to offer healthy foods?
And finally, this year is the International Year of Pulses (IYP). Pulses are a water efficient and affordable source of protein and they enrich the soil where they are grown. The Global Pulse Confederation (GPC) has set several ambitious targets for IYP 2016:
- To increase pulse production by 10% by 2020
- To increase pulse consumption by 10% by 2020
- To improve market access to facilitate local, national and international trade
- To engage 30 countries as advocates and investors in IYP 2016 targets
- To engage 50 partners as advocates and investors in IYP 2016.
So let’s keep an eye on how these plans progress. Happy IYP!
Barnard, Neal (7 Jan 2016). Digesting the 2015 Dietary Guidelines. PCRM.
Heid, Markham (8 Jan 2016). Experts Say Lobbying Skewed the U.S. Dietary Guidelines. Time.
Sifferlin, Alexandra (7 Jan 2016). Here’s What 10 Experts Think of the Government’s New Diet Advice. Time.
Nestle, Marion (7 Jan 2016). The 2015 Dietary Guidelines, at long last. Food Politics blog.
Duhaime-Ross, Arielle (7 Jan 2016). New US food guidelines show the power of lobbying, not science. Meat and soda execs can breathe easy. The Verge.
Brown, Parker (7 Jan 2016). 2015 Diet Guide Departs From Recommendations. New guidelines add focus on dietary patterns and keep cap on sugar. Medpage Today.