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New study reveals a major issue with meat that most people aren't aware of: 'The science is actually quite clear'

"There is still an important role for livestock in nature-friendly farming systems."

Madre Brava study about Grilling steak

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According to a new study, most people aren't fully aware of just how much animal agriculture contributes to the Earth's rising temperatures, The New Statesman reported.

What happened?

Madre Brava, an organization pushing for less polluting and more eco-friendly food production, recently set up a survey of more than 7,000 adults across Germany, Brazil, France, the U.S., and the U.K.

Out of the people polled by Madre Brava, very few knew much about the meat industry: The U.S. held the highest percentage of people who said they know "lots" about industrial meat production, at only 8% of the population. Only 31% of people in the U.S. and 26% in the U.K. were "very concerned" or "extremely concerned" about the issue, and only 17% of participants worldwide accurately ranked industrial meat as a leading cause of higher global temperatures.

Yet livestock accounts for 14.5% of the heat-trapping gases produced worldwide, about the same amount as transportation, the New Statesman reported, based on a figure from the United Nations.

Cattle farming is also one of the main reasons behind the destruction of rainforests, which the world desperately needs to remove heat-trapping gases from the atmosphere.

The New Statesman reported that propaganda from the meat industry is making it harder to spread awareness about this issue by telling the government and the public that no changes are needed. Meanwhile, people who push for the other extreme and call for the elimination of meat as a food source also muddy the issue. 

Why does it matter?

Good information is crucial to allow buyers to make smart financial and environmental decisions. 

According to the New Statesman, people across the world need to eat less meat (not none) to protect the Earth from rising temperatures and extreme weather. But people can't make informed choices if they're unaware of the issue.

"The science is actually quite clear," Rob Percival, a food policy author and member of Soil Association, told the New Statesman's Spotlight. "Average per capita consumption of meat and dairy needs to decline by at least 35 to 50% if we are to meet our climate and nature targets, but there is still an important role for livestock in nature-friendly farming systems."

What's the solution?

More media coverage of the research would go a long way to increasing public awareness. According to the New Statesman, fewer than 450 out of 92,000 surveyed environment articles mentioned animal agriculture as a contributor to rising global temperatures.

Meanwhile, individuals and households can save money and the environment by skipping meat sometimes and choosing cheaper plant-based protein sources like beans and soy. In the near future, lab-grown meat may even be an option.

Join our free newsletter for easy tips to save more, waste less, and help yourself while helping the planet.

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