German Survey: meat consumption must fall to reach climate targets

EU citizens consume around 80 kilograms of meat per year. However, livestock produce methane, which accelerates global warming. Besides, the animals convert only a portion of what they eat into meat. If planet Earth is to continue feeding us in the future, rich countries must considerably reduce their meat consumption.

This is the conclusion of a new study on meat consumption by the University of Bonn. In addition to the effects on the environment and climate, these include health and economic effects. The researchers concluded that in order to achieve international climate targets, especially the people from Europe, North America and Australia should reduce their meat consumption – ideally to 20 kilograms or less annually.

According to Prof. Dr. Matin Qaim of the University of Bonn, the war in Ukraine and the resulting international shortages in cereal grains highlight that less grain should be fed to animals in order to support food security. Currently, around half of all grains produced worldwide are used as animal feed. The researchers also suggest that higher taxes on animal-based foods might be considered. Qaim: “Meat has a high environmental cost that is not reflected in current prices. It would be reasonable and fair to have consumers share more of these costs.”