Will reducing the UK’s red meat consumption improve our environmental impact?

Last updated 16th December 2020

With food production so intrinsically linked, removing or reducing livestock is likely to lead to a less sustainable food system, with unintended consequences for the wider environment (for example, water quality, biodiversity, etc). With sustainability imperative to food security and affordability, removing or dramatically reducing livestock could have huge implications on the availability of affordable food.

Studies suggest removing animal products from western diets could reduce personal carbon footprints by around 4%. Care must be taken to avoid replacing sustainably and locally produced foods such as red meat and dairy with imported goods, or producing crops with artificial fertilisers rather than manure with potentially wider environmental implications, or in some countries significant impacts on the economy and its people.  Shifting emissions abroad makes little sense for the UK.

What is red meat?