FOUR PAWS Report: Meat is "Eating up the planet"


Eye opening report on Earth Day shows world cannot handle any more meat production


BOSTON, MA – APRIL 21, 2023 - In the run-up to international Earth Day on April 22nd, FOUR PAWS, the global animal welfare organization, published a new report outlining a unique measurement tool called “Meat Exhaustion Day”.  

As studies prove, factory farmed meat production causes enormous environmental harm, human health problems, and the suffering of billions of animals per year. A team of experts at FOUR PAWS therefore took the Planetary Health Diet* provided by the renowned EAT Lancet Commission and calculated the “Meat Exhaustion Day”. the day when the annual consumption of meat exceeds the amount the earth can sustainably handle. Similar to Earth Overshoot Day, the calculations aim to help understand the magnitude of our habits and choices. FOUR PAWS reveals that the global Meat Exhaustion Day will fall on June 26, 2023.   

FOUR PAWS report on Meat Exhaustion Day also calls out the worst meat culprits of the planet, USA, Australia, and Europe, suggesting that mainly the Global North is “eating up the planet” as meat and dairy production account for one of the most severe drivers of the climate crisis. The report urges governments and industries to implement a reduction of meat production and consumption, and transition to food systems that support high animal welfare and environmental protection.  

"Although we can see a slight downward trend of meat consumption in some countries in the Global North, the overall picture is still grim. Globally meat consumption is expected to grow even further although the recommendations call for a reduction of 50 per cent. To halt the unfolding climate crisis and the dramatic loss of biodiversity this trend needs to be reversed as soon as possible. Therefore we call on politicians and the food industry to take action, set clear goals and implement effective policies for meat reduction."

-Herman van Bekkem, Climate Program lead of FOUR PAWS

The Meat Exhaustion Day is calculated by comparing the average actual consumption of meat per person with the Planetary Health Diet, recommended by the EAT Lancet Commission. This panel of international scientists give guidance for what would be a consumption pattern that provides healthy food for a growing world population, within planetary boundaries. The Planetary Boundaries framework presents a set of nine factors, that ensure a “safe operating space” for future generations. Human activities should not go beyond these boundaries. To calculate the Planetary Health Diet, six of these indicators that are relevant to food were used: Biodiversity loss, freshwater use, extinction rate, land-system change, nitrogen, and phosphorus cycling. 

The recommendations outlined in the report depend on one’s continent and country. Particularly notable are the USA and Australia while the countries with the lowest meat intake are in Northern Africa and Southeast Asia. In the US, this day passed on March 9. For the entire world, this day will occur on June 26. To live sustainably, the report calls for an 80% reduction of meat consumption in the US and a 50% reduction globally.   

With this report, FOUR PAWS reveals that healthy, plant-based diets reduce destructive land use dramatically, improve greenhouse gas emission, and directly improve the lives of animals. We urge policymakers and consumers to make healthy choices for our planet and for animals.

FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organization for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need, and protects them. Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler and friends, the organization advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy, and understanding. FOUR PAWS’ sustainable campaigns and projects focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, farm animals and wild animals – such as bears, big cats, and orangutans – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones. With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA and Vietnam, as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in eleven countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions. 

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