Reducing ruminant numbers and consumption of animal source foods are aligned with environmental and public health demands

Reducing ruminant numbers and consumption  of animal source foods are aligned with environmental and public health demands

Benjamin L. Bodirsky1, Prajal Pradhan1, Marco Springmann2

1 Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Member of Leibniz Association, Germany

Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food and Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford, UK


happy cows 263766

From an environmental perspective, reducing animal source foods, in particular ruminant-source ones, is imperative in most regions to meet emission reduction targets and other environmental concerns. However, as such calls become louder, they are also facing several prevalent counter- narratives. Here, we provide a novel discussion on three of these narratives that relate to the social, economic, and environmental threats of reducing animal source foods, including i) food and nutrition security, ii) development and livelihoods, and iii) conservation of biodiversity and cultural landscapes. For each point, we highlight how the reduction of animal source foods, in particular ruminant-source ones, can go hand-in-hand with concomitant improvements rather than threats. Our discussion is focused on ruminant systems because ruminants emit higher amounts of greenhouse gases and often have a higher environmental impact than mono gastric animals; however, our arguments also hold for monogastric systems.

 

Publication details

Bodirsky et al. 2019. Reducing ruminant numbers and consumption of animal source foods are aligned with environmental and public health demands. Landbauforschung : journal of sustainable and organic agricultural systems  69(1):25–30, DOI:10.3220/LBF1581688226000