The United Nations
Environment Program (UNEP) and the European Commission have jointly
launched a major report calling for radical change in the way that
economies use resources known to be dwindling at alarming rates, in
order to minimize environmental impact.
The study, titled
“Assessing Environmental Impacts of Consumption and Production: Priority
Products and Materials,” identified two leading causes of environmental
pressure: fossil fuels and agriculture, with specific attention given
to the livestock raising sector.
Authored by researchers from
the UNEP-hosted International Panel for Sustainable Resource Management,
the report states: “Agriculture and food consumption are identified as
one of the most important drivers of environmental pressures, especially
habitat change, climate change, water use and toxic emissions.”
report further explains that with a growing global population and
developing economies, the impacts of climate change and environmental
degradation will be even more dangerous – unless patterns of production
and consumption, especially starting at home, become more sustainable.
highlighted is the fact that an unsustainably large proportion of the
world’s crops are currently fed to livestock, resulting in such damaging
effects as excessively high water consumption and toxic use of
pesticides and fertilizers, with the report saying that a global drop in
meat consumption is vital to avoid devastating consequences.
authors state: “A substantial reduction of impacts would only be
possible with a substantial worldwide diet change, away from animal
UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner further
highlighted the destructive role of livestock, stating, “Two broad areas
are currently having a disproportionately high impact on people and the
planet's life support systems—these are energy in the form of fossil
fuels and agriculture, especially the raising of livestock for meat and
dairy products…Some tough choices are signaled in this report, but it
may prove even more challenging for everyone if the current paths
continue into the coming decades.”
The report, which will be
presented to world governments, urges policy makers to adopt strict but
creative measures to avoid these adverse consequences.
appreciation, Executive Director Steiner, United Nations Environment
Program, European Commission and International Panel for Sustainable
Resource Management scientists for your leadership in stating the need
to prioritize a widespread shift to a diet free of animal products. May
wise governments and individuals worldwide quickly heed this call to
ensure the survival of lives on Earth.
Supreme Master Ching Hai
has similarly spoken on many occasions of the immense toll of meat and
fish production on the planet, tirelessly urging for a global switch to
plant-based fare, as in the following excerpt from an October 2009
videoconference in Germany.
Ching Hai: But even though our predicament is very grave, we do
still have time if we act now. And the solution is still very simple.
Well, you know it, right? It’s the vegan diet – no animal products. http://www.unep.org/resourcepanel/documents/pdf/PriorityProductsAndMaterials_Report_Full.pdfhttp://www.uneptie.org/shared/publications/pdf/WEBx0159xPA-PriorityProductsAndMaterials_Summary_EN.pdfhttp://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=34886&Cr=sustainability&Cr1=http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=34886&Cr=sustainability&Cr1=http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/LDE6501M0.htmhttp://ec.europa.eu/avservices/player/streaming.cfm?type=ebsvod&sid=161127
to the most recent figures from scientists, livestock raising is
actually responsible for more than 50% of global warming. The original
United Nations report in 2006, “Livestock’s Long Shadow,” spoke in bold
terms even already about the damage caused by the livestock industry,
saying that, “It is one of the topmost significant contributors to the
most serious environmental problems at every scale, from local to
First, depleted land and forests. According to the
United Nations, livestock is the main reason for deforestation which in
turn is causing tragic declines in natural biodiversity.
wasted resources. For every kilogram of animal protein produced,
livestock are fed about 6 kilograms of plant protein.
wasted water. Scientists have found that each person eating a meat and
dairy based diet uses around 4,500 gallons of water per day, compared to
300 gallons per day for a vegan diet.
Fourth, wasted energy. It
takes 8 times as much fossil fuel to produce animal products as to
produce plant food. This is the key. If everyone switches to this
beneficial lifestyle, our planet will be cooled in no time,
scientifically speaking and my promise.