The UN supports calls for a shift away from animal agriculture

A new report exploring the role of the global food system as the ‘principal driver of accelerating biodiversity loss’ has been endorsed by the UN as a reason to shift away from animal agriculture and towards a plant-based diet.

The report analysed how the current food system, which is heavily reliant on animal agriculture, is destroying natural habitats and contributing to species extinction. In fact, it is threatening a whopping 86% of species at risk of extinction.

To combat the rapid depleting of natural ecosystems, the report suggests three ‘levers’ to create a more sustainable food system.

  1. To encourage more plant-based diets.
  2. To protect and set aside land for nature.
  3. To shift to more sustainable farming methods.

However, in order for the reform to be successful, all three levers will need to be in effect. This means that not only will global diets need to be more plant-based, but they will also need to be sustainably farmed and likely both local and seasonal.

Climate conferences

2021 is set to be the UN’s ‘Super Year’ for climate conferences and is intended to urge global leaders to work together and take steps towards a more environmentally positive global food system.

The report’s findings were presented at a virtual event last week, attended by a variety of environmental figures including Jane Goodall, who criticises intensive animal agriculture.

She said, “The intensive farming of billions of animals globally seriously damages the environment, causing loss of biodiversity and producing massive greenhouse gas emissions that accelerate global warming. It should be phased out as soon as possible.”

‘A double-edged sword’

Speaking to VegNews, The Director of UNEP’s Ecosystems Division Susan Gardner commented:

“Our current food system is a double-edged sword, shaped by decades of the ‘cheaper food’ paradigm, aimed at producing more food, quickly and cheaply, without taking into account the hidden costs to biodiversity and its life-supporting services—and to our own health.”

“Reforming the way we produce and consume food is an urgent priority—we need to change global dietary patterns, protect and set aside land for nature, and farm in a more nature-friendly and biodiversity-supporting way.”

We hope that this new research will pave the way towards a more climate-positive future, and encourage more people to choose plant-based options.

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