• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Plea to cut pollution by eating less meat

HALVING the amount of meat and dairy eaten in Europe could slash nitrogen pollution from agriculture and improve health, a study has suggested.

Around 80% of nitrogen emissions in the European Union come from agriculture, for example from fertiliser and manure, and up to 88% of the sector's nitrogen losses into the environment are linked to livestock production.

Nitrogen emissions in the form of ammonia, nitrates and nitrous oxide can cause air, water and soil pollution and account for around 10% of the warming caused by greenhouse gases, experts said.

If everyone in the EU became "demitarian" - halving the amount of meat and other animal products they consume - it could reduce greenhouse gases from agriculture by 25% to 40% and nitrogen emissions by 40%, the European Nitrogen Assessment's "nitrogen on the table" report said.

It would also bring European consumption of saturated fats down to within levels recommended by the World Health Organisation and reduce red meat and protein consumption, cutting the risk of heart disease and cancer.

Because around 80% of crops are fed to livestock, reducing meat and dairy consumption would free up land for other crops or for plants grown to produce bio-energy.

It would also slash soya bean imports to the EU by around three-quarters.

The report's lead author Henk Westhoek, from the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, said such a change could see the EU become a major exported of food products such as soya beans.

Contextual targeting label: 
Environment

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

228841