News

Could Less Meat Mean More Food?

Science  12 Feb 2010:
Vol. 327, Issue 5967, pp. 810-811
DOI: 10.1126/science.327.5967.810

You are currently viewing the summary.

View Full Text
As a service to the community, AAAS/Science has made this article free with registration.

Summary

Here's a simple idea you may have heard for improving food security: Eat less meat. The logic goes like this. People in the developed world eat a huge amount of animal protein. And consumption of meat, eggs, and milk is already growing globally as people in poorer nations get richer and shift their diets. That's a problem because animals are eating a growing share of the world's grain harvests—and already directly or indirectly utilize up to 80% of the world's agricultural land. Yet they supply just 15% of all calories. So, the argument goes, if we just ate less meat, we could free up a lot of plants to feed billions of hungry people and gain a lot of good farmland. Some food-security researchers, however, are skeptical. Although cutting back on meat has many potential benefits, they say the complexities of global markets and human food traditions could also produce some counterintuitive—and possibly counterproductive—results.