Researchers from the University of Edinburgh and Scotland’s Rural College said that a reduction in the consumption of meat would not necessarily help the environment, while pointing at the importance of livestock production, The Telegraph reports.
Speaking at a recent panel on the future of meat production, the UK’s leading experts on animal and agricultural food science, including University of Edinburgh Professor Geoff Simm and Scotland’s Rural College Professor Mike Coffey, said that the livestock sector has recently been intensively demonised, despite being crucial for global development. They also point out that recent studies have not proved that shifting to a vegan or vegetarian diet would help tackle environmental issues globally.
“I think [livestock farmers] do feel they are being demonised. Often the argument is made that going vegan would minimise land use, and the modelling studies that have been done demonstrate that that’s not the case”, Director of Global Academy Agriculture and Food Security at the University of Edinburgh Geoff Simm said during the panel.
“Meat has massive social benefits”, the expert added. “It’s an important source of dietary protein, energy, highly bioavailable micronutrients, even small amounts of animal-sourced food have a really important effect on the development of children, in the developing world on their cognitive and physical development and they are really important”.
Recent research prepared by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change indicated that increased reliance on meat and dairy products tend to contribute to global warming through ineffective use of land, calling for a reduction in meat consumption. These findings are not supported by the UK experts, though, with Professor Mike Coffey insisting that veganism is not an answer to tackling climate change.
In the meantime, new breeds of eco-friendly cattle are expected to soon emerge in the UK livestock sector and potentially in the world. These selected breeds will potentially grow faster and consume less food, thus reducing the amount of methane released into the atmosphere.