ABSTRACT

Food and nutrition security is not just about us. We humans have a duty of care to all life on Earth; a duty that has been much abused (inter alia) through profligate use of resources, degradation of the land and lack of respect for the welfare of other sentient animals. There are multiple reasons for these lapses from grace, most of them understandable and some of them excusable. While the excessive consumption of meat and dairy products by the rich can be called decadent, unhealthy and unfair to the poor, desertification of land through subsistence farming in the third world is usually a natural consequence of poverty. In recent years food from animals (meat, eggs and dairy products, hereafter referred to as MED) has become much cheaper in relative terms, largely due to the intensification and expansion of livestock production systems. Global consumption of MED continues to rise because the great majority of people enjoy eating it and more and more people can afford it. The FAO (2006) predicts that the consumption of meat in the developing world will rise from 137 × 106 tonnes in 2006 to 252 × 106 tonnes in 2030. This is a trend that simply cannot continue indefinitely. It has been estimated that ‘by 2030, if China’s people are consuming at the same rate as the Americans they will eat two-thirds of the entire global harvest and burn 100M barrels of oil a day, 125 per cent of current world output’ (Brown 1995).