Reducing meat and dairy for a healthier life and planet — the Greenpeace vision of the meat and dairy system towards 2050.
The food we eat and how we produce it are key to determining what kind of future we and our children will have. In this report, we answer the question of “what to eat?” by reviewing the scientific evidence exposing what our health and the health of the planet demand from us: a global reduction of 50% in production and consumption of animal products by 2050 and a change in the way we produce them.
Our food system — including changes in land use linked to agriculture — is currently responsible for a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change. Meat and dairy production alone already releases as much greenhouse gas emissions as the transport sector. If we do nothing, by 2050 gas emissions from the food system will represent over half of the total global emissions associated with human activities.
The effect of meat and dairy production on biodiversity is also staggering. Since 1970, the Earth has lost half of its wildlife but tripled its livestock population. Intensive meat and dairy production is a major driver of deforestation, dead zones in the oceans, and degradation of freshwater bodies globally.
Perhaps most insidious is this: increasing meat and dairy production and consumption is behind a latent global health crisis. High red meat consumption has been linked to cancer, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. Industrial animal agriculture is also associated with antimicrobial resistance — which the World Health Organization declared a “global health emergency” — and is a significant source of foodborne pathogens. Millions of lives could be saved each year if people had better access to a diet rich in plant-based foods.
This strong scientific evidence must translate into global action. Greenpeace will work alongside farmers to heal our planet and its people by standing up to industrial meat and dairy to create a global food system that is fair and sustainable for farmers and the environment. We call on governments to end policies that support industrial meat and dairy production and instead help farmers shift towards ecological farming. We also urge governments to make healthy, plant-based foods more available and call on people around the world to join the movement for less meat and dairy and a healthier planet.
Download the full report: Less Is More: Greenpeace vision of the meat and dairy system towards 2050
Scientific background for the Greenpeace vision of the meat and dairy system towards 2050
Interesting that the word "aquaculture" is not even mentioned when talking about meat. You get 2 to 3 times more meat on the plate per kg of animal feed with fish/shrimp that don't waste energy standing up or keeping warm. More growth per kg of feed. Shifting from cattle, pigs, and chicken to salmon, trout, shrimp, etc. would allow us to provide meat for the coming 3 billion more people and the existing 2 billion who want to eat better without increasing our agricultural area. Just improving the food conversion efficiency.
Veganism is not about reducing the intake of animal products and wearables. It is neither a matter of reducing suffering, but to stop enslaving animals. To stop thinking that we have a right to own their lives, bodies and effort. We don't. To be "almost vegan" means to be 100% animal exploiter. Please, stop promoting the idea that veganism is a diet. Be fair, go vegan, and promote no less than veganism. (Promoting) anything less than veganism is (promoting) unnecessary violence towards animals. Visit www.ethicalveganeducation.com for more info on why and how to be vegan.
I will be cancelling my membership because of this stance against meat. Meat is the most healthful, bio appropriate food for humans. There is no actual link between meat consumption and disease, except in cases where it was proven that carbohydrates, seed oils, and processed foods were consumed as over 70% of the diet and meat was a mere 10%. Animal agriculture is not the cause of loss of biodiversity. Blame that on the cats and dogs that run feral and eat all the small animals. Blame pollution caused by shipping exotic fruits and processed foods all over the world for hungry foodies. Animal agriculture has been unfairly blamed, using false figures and old statistics that have been debunked for years. I have left the vegetarian lifestyle and become a pure carnivore for many reasons. I haven't felt so healthy and happy in decades.
It is not as simple as that. If eating vegan food would be better for the climat always and in every situation, that would be a simple and nice solution. But you have to think, and be aware of how the production is done, in every single product. The best thing is to eat food produced where you live, and when it is in season. Someone wants us to look the other way, forget that fossile fuel is the single reason for the rise of CO2 in the atmosphere, and instead discuss cows and methane. Which is natural, and circling in nature. Someone wants us to eat processed soybeans, sold by global companies, instead of the food we can grow and breed just in our own neighbourhood. Who? And why does Greenpeace wish to help these companies?
Very true. Methane breaks down in 10 years. The number of cows on the planet now, is less than the number of buffalo that once roamed the plains of North America. Either cows produce more methane that buffalo, or this is a false fear. Also, the rich soil of the plains used to be six feet deep. The buffalo are gone. The top soil is also gone. Eating local beef burns less of our resources than imported acai berry and quinoa bowls with a mocha latte soy coffee every morning.
No person is a perfect world citizen. Either is no organisation. It is not our imperfections that render us useless to healing and protecting the earth--it is apathy to the situation. Greenpeace challenges apathy and calls on each of us to do same. It is no more or less than this that can turn the tide of indifference to one of attentive care. Thank you Greenpeace for all you do and all life you reach out to sustain through all your good deeds.
Too slow! 50% meat reduction by 2050???? Too little change & too late! We need at least 80% reduction in next 10 years to avoid runaway climate change and irreversible damage to the planet. We owe it to our children and the future of the Earth as everyone's home!! Even if you don't care about animals suffering, it's time everybody stopped torturing, murdering them & eating them, for the sake of the planet as a whole and all who live on her and our children's future! We don't need to eat meat to survive, in fact vegans thrive. As a vegan I think I'm going to withdraw my monthly donation to Greenpeace if you cant act any faster on this issue!!
Veganism is the absolute minimum if you are to call yourself an environmentalist. I stopped supporting this organization and it’s greenwashing years ago, and while I’m glad to see GP finally speaking out, it’s very little, very late. You’ll have to do a lot better to repair your reputation.
Nice to know the world is waking up and we can all play our part to make a healthier world
First of all Thank You Greenpeace for your commitment in saving the Planet! I have a very simple question, I'd like to put the "Less is more" picture on my facebook as my background image but even if I found lots of these images in google I am not able to save them. Surely there is copyright protection so I am asking the permission to "publish" this picture on my fb profile as above stated. Can I have it from you directly? To the question you may ask, "which one?", I can say that it's this one https://www.repubblica.it/ambiente/2018/04/10/news/greenpeace_dimezzare_il_consumo_di_carne_e_prodotti_lattiero-caseari_per_salvare_il_clima_-193405746/ Hope to hear from you!
Hi Fabio, yes you are welcome to use the Less Is More image with credit to Greenpeace. Thanks for spreading the word!
How do I cite the Less Is More: Greenpeace vision of the meat and dairy system towards 2050 article? Is it considered a website, journal, etc? https://www.greenpeace.org/static/planet4-international-stateless/2018/03/698c4c4a-summary_greenpeace-livestock-vision-towards-2050.pdf does not come up on the internet, only as a document in other applications.
Watching "Cowspiracy" I was frustrated about the reply the documentary maker got from Greenpeace about the impact agriculture has on the environment. I was ready to cancel my Greenpeace membership. I'm glad to read there have been some changes made since then...to be fair, is my donation going to pay for a block of cheese you will eat at your next function? Not really happy that an environmental organisation has acted so slowly on this issue.
Hi Maura, Thank you for your note! We're happy that the Cowspiracy documentary got the attention that it did. And we are happy about that the world is finally raising an eyebrow at meat consumption. Please read here our reaction to the documentary. Thanks you for all your support!
Hi Maura, we'd suggest you cite it as an online article crediting Greenpeace International as the author. Should you need to dig into any of sources, you can find the scientific analysis supporting our meat and dairy positions here >> https://www.greenpeace.org/international/publication/15093/less-is-more/. Thanks for your interest!
I have filed Public Interest Litigation in the Supreme Court of India against Industrial Dairy practice and unmanageable number of cattle which are destroying Indian climate, contaminating water & air. Density of cattle (Beef & dairy) in India is 10 times more than in USA, EU, China, Australia. India has over 300 million cows & Buffaloes which is more than what is held by USA, EU and China together. It's epidemic in India.. cancer, diarrhoea, respiratory and heart disease. I need authentic RESEARCH PAPERS that quantifies Live stock contamination in Water, Air & Soil. "Human Health implication quantification per million unstabled cattle" would help me. Any input on following email please. [email protected]
I really hope some people reached out to you to assist you with this cause. Far too many animals suffering.
This should be advertised so much more!
S.Mueller: Not being vegan doesn't negate a person's environmentalism. If we only accept absolute 'perfection' no one will ever be persuaded to change. Ask yourself, what is more important? Berating 10 people to become vegan, and only changing 1 person's views because you've annoyed and offended the others, or respectfully asking 10 people to reduce their meat consumption, and all 10 people consider your point and do so. I guarantee militant veganism has alienated more people than it persuades. Compromise and understanding will create much wider strides towards reducing global meat consumption than anger and absolutism. And yes, I'm a 'vegan', though I never refer to myself as such due to the negative association with militant vegans. I understand your feelings of anger, but they won't get you anywhere. If you care at all about the cause then ask meat-eaters you know to reduce their meat consumption, not to go vegan. They'll only listen to the option they perceive to be feasible, and by reducing their meat consumption, might just find it's not as hard as it seems and go all the way. That's how it was for me, and that's how I've managed to persuade every person I know well to reduce their meat consumption. And I mean every person. Thank you Greenpeace, for doing what you do!
Ceda, it is 2020 now and YES, it is still a fact that not being vegan does "negate a person's environmentalism". To campaign against everything that harms the earth, except the one known industry that comprehensively does the most damage to the earth is hypocritical. S.Mueller's comments were valid certainly not "angry" or "berating". Adopting a vegan lifestyle is easy, it only requires a small effort that will immediately benefit the environment in so many ways. I think you need to learn more about the harm that the meat and dairy industries are doing to our planet. The future is vegan, or there may be no future.
I like the new site and the new policy supporting the consumption of less meat and dairy. Green and Peace for ALL sentient beings would be the logical next step and for the sake of us all must come soon as possible. Another very critical problem has been discovered ie glyphosate in roundup. This may be more urgent than curbing climate change.
Is Annie Leonard, your executive director, vegan? Are the board members? Staff and volunteers? I stopped supporting Greenpeace years ago because of your irresponsibility in not promoting a vegan lifestyle. You need to do a lot of soul searching. You cannot promote a healthy planet and enjoy your steak, ribs, seafood & brie. It's a nice gesture to promote "halving" our consumption of meat and dairy (and what about seafood?!) but you need to live it to promote it. You need to do a lot better.
Thanks for your question. As we ask governments and people worldwide to shift towards a more plant-based diet and to reduce meat and dairy consumption, we are making the same shift as a global organization. Greenpeace International purchases mostly plant-based, organic, locally-grown, seasonal foods and makes vegan options available to all staff in our staff canteens. For our official meetings, we offer mostly plant-based and vegetarian menu items. As for our International Executive Directors, Jennifer Morgan is vegetarian and Bunny McDiarmid is participating in our plant-free challenge (eating only plant-based foods for at least one month). Many of our national offices also have their own food policies that actively implement reductions or elimination of meat in their staff canteens, and push for local, ecological options whenever possible.
Really happy to read this response, Ryan. Given that you all now acknowledge the many harmful impacts of dairy to animals, human health, and the environment, though, I do hope you'll shift from offering vegetarian (dairy inclusive) options at functions to 100% plant-based foods. If you all would be interested in trying some incredible vegan cheeses at your meetings, please let me know and I would be glad to assist in getting some companies to send samples to your headquarters. Thank you to Greenpeace for finally taking on this important issue.