Large parts of grasslands used today, especially in arid regions, are not suitable for forms of agriculture other than extensive grassland management. However, it is no longer possible to achieve a substantial increase in its production capacity. In some areas of the world, over-exploitation of grasslands, also through traditional livestock husbandry, is a serious problem.
The conversion rates from plant-based calories to animal-based calories per kilogram range between 2:1 for poultry, 3:1 for pork, farmed fish, milk and eggs and 7:1 for beef. According to the calculations of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the calories which are lost by feeding cereals to animals instead of using them directly as human food, could theoretically feed an extra 3.5 billion people.

Reducing meat and milk consumption in industrialised countries

Although the IAASTD does not provide recommendations with regard to consumer habits, the report findings present one clear conclusion: The consumption of meat and dairy products in industrialised countries must be reduced, whilst consumption in emerging economies must be limited to an acceptable level. These are the two most urgent and effective steps that must be taken to achieve food security and to protect natural resources and the climate.
The extremely negative impact of meat and dairy production on the climate could also be mitigated by improving the composition of animal feed, thereby reducing methane emissions. Additional sources of feed, for example organic waste or unused bycatches in fishery, could enhance efficiency in this field. A better distribution of meat production facilities is also necessary in order to reduce transport distances and enable the use of animal manure in those places where nutrients have been removed from the soil.

Need for change in consumer habits

There is no way of avoiding a change in our behaviour as consumers. Considering the devastating consequences of meat consumption for the climate, the environment, justice and our own health, would it really be too radical to revert to our grandparents’ tradition of a SUNDAY roast rather than eating meat every day? This would not only be good for our health but also for food safety and the environment. Humane treatment of farm animals would be beneficial to their well-being and with that to our self-respect. When buying meat at the supermarket, we would not have to suppress images of unbearable conditions in modern meat factories, of deforestation or of global warming, all of which are consequences of this form of production.


Civil Society

  • Farmageddon is a campaign to kickstart a food and farming revolution
  • The Pig Pledge is a movement to only eat meat from real farms, not animal factories
  • PETA animal rights NGO, information on factory farming, vegetarian recipes
  • Food & Water Watch works to ensure the food, water and fish we consume is safe, accessible and sustainably produced
  • WSPA World Society for the Protection of Animals exists to tackle animal cruelty across the globe
  • Worldwatch Institute News on seafood and meat consumption
  • The Meatrix offers information on factory farming, alternatives to conventionally-raised meat and humorous films about the problems with factory farming


Video: Meat Consumption

To watch video click on image
To watch video click on image

Pig Business explores the rise of factory pig farming

Where the world's pigs live


  • UNEP Dietary ChangeUNEP Dietary Change
  • UNEP Food Chain LossesUNEP Food Chain Losses
  • UNEP Global Trends ProductionUNEP Global Trends Production
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Unterstützer von biovision Verlag der Arbeitsgemeinschaft bäuerliche Landwirtschaft e.V. Demeter Greenpeace Forum Umwelt und Entwicklung Eine Welt Stiftung Die Grünen, Europäische Freie Allianz Evangelischer Entwicklungsdienst NABU - Naturschutzbund Deutschland e.V. Misereor Deutsche Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit Zukunftsstiftung Landwirtschaft in der GLS Treuhand Zukunftsstiftung Landwirtschaft in der GLS Treuhand
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