It is one issue that seldom gets talked about`by proponents of action to tackle global warming – the embedded greenhouse gas emissions on your dinner plate.
According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation animal agriculture is responsible for more CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions than the combined emissions from all the world’s cars, lorries, ships and planes.
As countries like China and India develop a taste for western-style meat-intensive diets, the meat and dairy industry is probably the main driver of global deforestation – with millions of hectares being cleared to grow soy and other crops for factory farms.
Now a new report by the London think tank Chatham House says governments are missing an opportunity to tackle climate change and improve public health by not addressing how much meat and dairy we consume.
Consumption of meat and dairy products in many countries has risen beyond healthy levels, the report says, and emissions from rearing livestock mean growing meat demand will make it harder to keep global temperature rise below 2C.
Political leaders are “afraid of telling people what to eat”, says the authors, but the findings suggest the public may be less averse to changing their diets than governments fear.