Are Aussies Addicted to Beef?

By Hari Yellina
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Academics who studied agriculture’s impact on the environment are urging Australians to eliminate most beef from their diets. The meat business, on the other hand, has characterised their viewpoints as antiquated and “lazy.” Food production, according to writers Diana Bogueva and Dora Marinova in their new book Food in a Planetary Emergency, is responsible for more than a third of the world’s greenhouse gases and the loss of a substantial number of wildlife species owing to land destruction. Dr. Bogueva of the University of Sydney’s Centre for Advanced Food Engineering said farming was putting great burden on the ecosystem due to biodiversity loss, deforestation, savanna loss, plastic pollution, soil fatigue, abuse of freshwater, and exploitation of natural resources.

The findings of hundreds of peer-reviewed studies and meta-analyses on the link between diet and environmental impact are summarised in this book. It advocates for changes in areas like as food waste and packaging pollution, as well as meat consumption, circular agriculture, and flexitarianism, which is a largely plant-based diet with the odd animal meal. According to research released by the World Wildlife Fund in 2020, two-thirds of the planet’s wildlife has become extinct in the last 50 years. She claimed that clearing land for livestock production or livestock food was counterproductive because cattle require 38 calories of feed to generate one calorie of beef for human consumption.

“Rather of growing the grain or food we require for human use, we plant grain for the animals and then eat them,” Professor Marinova explained. She claimed that reducing meat consumption would require less land for livestock farming. The authors cited an EAT-Lancet report that indicated consumers cut their meat consumption by 80 to 90%. They claimed that going flexitarian will dramatically reduce carbon emissions and the environmental impact of farming. Because Australians are “addicted to meat,” Professor Marinova said switching to vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and fruits may be challenging, but she believes Generation Z has a better probability of success.

“They are eager to expand their consumption of traditional plant-based foods like fruits and vegetables, legumes, and tubers,” Professor Marinova said, “but they are more cautious to switch to alternative proteins, despite the fact that this market is practically booming.” The book is “lazy and outmoded,” according to Meat and Livestock Australia managing director Jason Strong. Mr Strong explained, “The knowledge is either old or a naive interpretation of the information, and in other cases it’s just plain lazy.” He expressed concern about the rapid loss of wildlife, but added that the beef business had a plan to become carbon neutral by 2030 and that producers were testing strategies to increase biodiversity. “Agriculture understands the importance of long-term sustainability [and] is responding faster than anyone else,” he says.

Mr Strong dismissed the EAT-Lancet report’s advice to cut meat intake, calling it biased and substantially debunked. According to him, the writers misrepresented the food production system and were incorrect about calorie conversion rates, cow emissions, and land destruction. The critiques irritated him, and he claimed that the problem was more complicated than the researchers’ book suggested. “By 2050, we’ll have 2.2 billion additional people, and we’ll need all the sustainable food production we can get,” added Mr Strong. “We won’t be able to do it by folks shooting at different areas of the supply chain selectively.” “We have the responsibility and the opportunity to feed the world and save the planet at the same time, and that’s what we plan to do,” Mr Strong said.


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