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Avoiding Meat To Lower Greenhouse Gas Emissions Can Be A Bad Idea

Last updated on September 26, 2019

Agriculture is one of the major contributors to global warming with 14.5 percent of gas emissions mostly from livestock and poultry. While some think tanks from developed countries suggest that reduction of meat intake can reduce gas emissions, it is a one-sided solution-based idea and can be controversial. One regionalised idea cannot solve the problem of the whole world. Several elements should be placed in place in building decisions on global issues, especially on nutrition. A proper look at the economic differences, structures and cultures, and food systems of low and middle-income countries should be considered in diet-related issues. Though, climate change is universal but nutritional needs are quite different in different parts of the world.

In truism, reducing meat consumptions and other animal-related products can lower greenhouse gas emissions. But, increasing food sufficiency and food diets in poor countries will increase greenhouse gas emissions. Poor countries need more nutritious food for healthy living and protein-based foods are essential. Therefore, nutritional needs differ in different countries – countries that have enough food and countries that do not.

It is cumbersome to ask locals from poor communities to become vegans in the name of fighting against climate change. There are regions food choices are limited due to its shortages. Besides, meat and other protein-based foods are primary protein food sources in poor countries and giving it up will push in nutritional complexities. 

India is the only lower-middle country in the top 10 countries with the highest percentage of vegetarians. About 25 percent of the total population being vegetarians, India may have the largest number of vegetarians in the world. Vegetarianism here is on the basis of religion and not motivated by nutrition or climate consciousness. The introduction of Buddhism and Jainism in 6th Century BC and the ideology of ahimsa which stresses respect and non-violence to all forms of life including cows. Nevertheless, globalization, income and cross-cultural influences have increased meat consumption in India and therefore it may be wrong to name India as a vegetarian country.

Westernising the whole perspective of global issues may be a wrong path towards achieving SDGs, especially on hunger, nutrition and climate change globally. Think tanks should involve the presence of the poor countries in finding solutions to climate change with references on food nutrition and economic development. 

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Broad Issues’s editorial stance. 

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