High consumption of livestock products could have serious consequences for people and the environment, according to a recent article published in Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development. The article, titled "The Sustainability Challenges of our Meat and Dairy Diets," emphasizes that the demand for livestock-based foods has soared over the last few decades. The article's authors, Susanne Stoll-Kleemann and Tim O'Riordan, emphasize that, if left unchecked, worldwide meat consumption and production could lead to species loss, climate risks, poverty, and even social breakdown as large meat-producing companies continue to displace small-scale farmers.
"Over the coming years livestock product consumption could soar as more people become wealthier," says the article's co-author Tim O'Riordon. "A vital role for science is to inform and help consumers to switch to healthier non-livestock related diets." As incomes continue to rise and urbanization continues to occur, meat consumption will continue to grow at an alarming rate. The authors urge that a "diet-altering awareness" is needed to placate both environmental and individual health concerns.
Overall, as co-author Susanne Stoll-Kleemann asserts, "An important general lesson from this article is that the livestock sector has such deep and wide-ranging environmental and social impacts that the topic of shifting diets… should rank as one of the leading focal themes for sustainability policy." Ultimately, efforts to moderate meat and dairy consumption must be made, or there could be grave consequences for the sustainability of both people and the planet in the not-so distant future.
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