Sustainable diets: how to ‘meat’ in the middle

Dr Emily Ouma, Senior Scientist and Agricultural Economist at the CGIAR International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), discusses how we might balance the nutritional needs of lower income communities in a sustainable way.

The adage ‘everything in moderation’ may be one of the oldest applied to diets, but in terms of sustainability it remains the best guide for both people and planet. The challenge is that the world is broadly divided into those who consume far more meat than necessary and those, among an estimated billion,1 who are malnourished from lack of the protein, vitamins and minerals most readily available in animal-sourced foods.

While reducing consumption may seem a straightforward option for industrialised countries to bring down the 14.5 percent of greenhouse gas emissions linked to agriculture,2 increasing consumption sustainably is a more difficult balancing act for low-income countries.
However, on either side of the spectrum, solutions exist to include meat as part of a sustainable diet.