How does over-consumption of meat and dairy affect forests and communities?
Global meat consumption has sky-rocketed since 1961, and meat production has quadrupled to meet this demand. Much of this meat is raised on newly deforested land – mainly in South America. This land is also used to grow soy beans to feed animals in Europe and elsewhere.
The problem for forests is double, as deforestation releases huge amounts of carbon dioxide, which is compounded by the methane released by farmed animals. The vast emissions from the meat and dairy industry, estimated to account for around 16 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, is pushing up global temperatures – and many forests are not in a strong enough state to survive.
The meat industry also affects forests and rural communities. Indigenous Peoples and small farmers in South America often have their land grabbed to make way for industrial production of beef and soy. Major meat companies have been repeatedly found responsible for exporting products produced on stolen land to Europe, the United States and China. EU policies such as the EU Regulation on deforestation-free products (EUDR) should make it illegal for companies to import products responsible for deforestation and land rights violations into the EU market.