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Should we eat less meat?

How does an increased appetite for meat around the world affect the planet, and what can we do? This article is taken from the Autumn 2014 edition of the geog.newsletter, for schools using the KS3 geography course.

Should we eat less meat?

How does an increased appetite for meat around the world affect the planet, and what can we do? This article is taken from the Autumn 2014 edition of the geog.newsletter, for schools using the KS3 geography course.



According to the Food and Agricultural Organisation for the United Nations (FAO), the livestock industry is one of the big three 'significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems'. Nearly a third of all land on Earth is now used for livestock and the production of feed. So, with the world's population expected to reach nine billion by 2050, raising enough animals to keep up with our current demand could see our planet heading for disaster.

Rise of a global market

Total meat consumption quadrupled between 1961 and 2007. China is now the world's biggest consumer of meat, with more than half of the 107 million tons of pork eaten worldwide in 2013 being consumed by the Chinese. This increase in meat demand doesn't just contribute to the catastrophic levels of greenhouse gas emissions: meat production also uses up precious resources such as land, water and energy. Meanwhile, food inequality is a major driver behind world poverty.

Flexitarianism or flexible vegetarianism?

In response to this impending doom, many campaigns have been launched to promote a permanent change in our lifestyles. Most prominent has been 'Meat Free Monday', which encourages us to skip meat just once a week. In fact, the US has estimated that if everyone gave up meat once a week it would have the same effect as taking 19.2 million cars off American roads. However, will this be enough to counter the rapidly rising populations and adoption of Western lifestyles in the BRICS nations which feed their demand for meat?

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Teach about this

geog.2 4th edition Student Book

In geog.2:

You can discover more about the environmental strains caused by rapid growth in China in Chapter 8 of geog.2, which focuses on Southwest China.

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Nelson Key Geography Interactions

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Chapter 4 of Nelson Key Geography Interactions looks at China - the emerging nation.