The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the European Commission have jointly launched a major report calling for radical change in the way that economies use resources known to be dwindling at alarming rates, in order to minimize environmental impact.
The study, titled “Assessing Environmental Impacts of Consumption and Production: Priority Products and Materials,” identified two leading causes of environmental pressure: fossil fuels and agriculture, with specific attention given to the livestock raising sector.
Authored by researchers from the UNEP-hosted International Panel for Sustainable Resource Management, the report states: “Agriculture and food consumption are identified as one of the most important drivers of environmental pressures, especially habitat change, climate change, water use and toxic emissions.”
The report further explains that with a growing global population and developing economies, the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation will be even more dangerous – unless patterns of production and consumption, especially starting at home, become more sustainable.
Particularly highlighted is the fact that an unsustainably large proportion of the world’s crops are currently fed to livestock, resulting in such damaging effects as excessively high water consumption and toxic use of pesticides and fertilizers, with the report saying that a global drop in meat consumption is vital to avoid devastating consequences.
The authors state: “A substantial reduction of impacts would only be possible with a substantial worldwide diet change, away from animal products.”
UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner further highlighted the destructive role of livestock, stating, “Two broad areas are currently having a disproportionately high impact on people and the planet's life support systems—these are energy in the form of fossil fuels and agriculture, especially the raising of livestock for meat and dairy products…Some tough choices are signaled in this report, but it may prove even more challenging for everyone if the current paths continue into the coming decades.”
The report, which will be presented to world governments, urges policy makers to adopt strict but creative measures to avoid these adverse consequences.
Our appreciation, Executive Director Steiner, United Nations Environment Program, European Commission and International Panel for Sustainable Resource Management scientists for your leadership in stating the need to prioritize a widespread shift to a diet free of animal products. May wise governments and individuals worldwide quickly heed this call to ensure the survival of lives on Earth.
Supreme Master Ching Hai has similarly spoken on many occasions of the immense toll of meat and fish production on the planet, tirelessly urging for a global switch to plant-based fare, as in the following excerpt from an October 2009 videoconference in Germany.