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we be eating?
There are many benefits of a mainly plant-based food system. These include:
We should aim to eat less meat and more organically and locally produced plant-based proteins (such as pulses, grains, nuts and seeds).
We believe that animals have a part to play in a sustainable agriculture system but that the scale and nature of most current livestock systems result in negative effects on the environment, animal welfare and human health. In the current industrial farming model, huge areas of land are required to grow a few crops to feed an excessive demand for meat. This land could otherwise be used for balanced small-scale food production and biodiversity. Growing plants for direct human consumption requires significantly less land.
There is a case for the sensitive inclusion of livestock in an ecological farming system[vi], and in the human diet – but as a supplementary element not the main focus[vii]. Grazing animals can be raised on marginal land in a way that enhances carbon sequestration and integrated into mixed farming systems to restore soils and provide fertility. Pigs and chickens can be included where they can best use waste while providing additional fertility. Any animal products we trade or support are from systems with high animal welfare and environmental standards. We define these as organic, mixed farming systems, grass-fed livestock and farms that are aiming to reduce their dependency on bought-in animal feeds.
[i] The price of protein: Review of land use and carbon footprints from life cycle assessments of animal food products and their substitutes https://www.researchgate.net/publication/257160858_The_price_of_protein_Review_of_land_use_and_carbon_footprints_from_life_cycle_assessments_of_animal_food_products_and_their_substitutes
How Low Can We Go? http://www.fcrn.org.uk/sites/default/files/WWF_How_Low_Report.pdf
[ii] Livestock's Long Shadow http://www.fao.org/docrep/010/a0701e/a0701e00.HTM
[iii] https://www.ndph.ox.ac.uk/bhfcpnp/about/publications-and-reports/group-reports/modelling-health-impacts.pdf and http://zerocarbonbritain.com/en/component/k2/item/149?Itemid=276 - p.92
[iv] Biodiversity Conservation: The key is reducing meat consumption http://www.cof.orst.edu/leopold/papers/Machovina_2015.pdf
[v] http://waterfootprint.org/media/downloads/Report-48-WaterFootprint-AnimalProducts-Vol1.pdf and http://waterfootprint.org/media/downloads/Report49-WaterFootprintSoy.pdf
[vi] Meat: A Benign Extravagance (Simon Fairlie, Permanent Publications)