Meat consumption reduction policies: benefits for climate change mitigation and health.


Michelozzi P, Lapucci E, Farchi S.

Year Published: 



Recenti Prog Med.


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Agricultural food production substantially contributes to green house gas (GHG) emissions worldwide and 80% of the agricultural emissions arise from the livestock sector, in particular from ruminants. Meat consumption is generally above dietary recommendations in many countries, including Italy, and it is increasing in developing countries. Although meat is a source of essential nutrients, it provides large amounts of saturated fat, which is a known risk factor for obesity and for several diseases such as stroke, breast cancer and colon cancer. Dietary changes, with lower intake of red and processed meat, are likely to be beneficial for improving health and for the environment by reducing emissions of GHG. Data on meat consumption in Italy among adults, referred to the last ten years, shows heterogeneity among regions, with the highest consumption in the North-western regions and generally with higher consumption among males. We describe meat consumption distribution worldwide, in Europe and Italy. An assessment of the potential environmental and health co-benefits considering different reduction scenarios of red meat consumption in Italy is provided. Dietary changes can substantially lower GHG and coordinated actions are needed across public health and other sectors to promote healthy, low-emission diets.