Universal vegetarianism will not save the climate

FAO recommends improving breeding without giving up animal protein. According to the FAO report, avoiding meat can only slightly reduce emissions. The best way is to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of animal breeding and production.

Universal vegetarianism will not save the climate

According to a new study commissioned by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), livestock production accounts for 12% of greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activities worldwide.

"However, we should not abandon it or exclude meat from the human diet, but rather improve livestock production along the entire chain," the FAO report says.


FAO experts note that due to the increase in meat consumption worldwide, the share of emissions from livestock production will increase. With the current global population growth, animal protein consumption will increase by about 21% between 2020 and 2050. However, the organization recommends not to replace meat with vegetable food, but first of all to increase the efficiency of its production at all stages.

FAO believes that the most effective way to reduce emissions from livestock production is to increase productivity. As an example, she cites an increase in cow yields due to breeding work, genetic selection and well-being. Scientists also emphasize the proper nutrition of animals, which can have a particularly strong impact on emissions.


According to the FAO, avoiding meat will have a very limited effect, especially in rich countries. Therefore, the calls of some groups to exclude meat from the diet are not justified and should not be considered as an argument in the fight to save the climate.

It should be borne in mind that most of the population of rich countries lives in cities and does not engage in agriculture. Fruits and vegetables consumed instead of meat are grown in greenhouses and fields, and then transported, usually over long distances. In the case of exotic fruits, transportation is carried out by sea or by air. Thus, emissions from long chains and frequent supplies exceed emissions from agriculture.


According to research, animal husbandry accounts for the majority of greenhouse gas emissions in all agriculture. This is as much as 62%, which should not be surprising. Pig farming accounts for 14% of emissions, poultry farming – 9%, cattle – 8%, sheep and goat breeding – 7%.

Most of the emissions, about 60%, occur as a result of digestion and animal secretions. The remaining 40% are indirect emissions related to the transportation of animals, the collection of green feed or the production of pesticides and fertilizers for growing plants for animal feed.

Total meat production accounts for 67% of greenhouse gas emissions, milk production for 30%, and egg production for 3%.

Source: emeat