It’s time to open up the debate on meat according to the influential British medical journal, The Lancet.

In an editorial published on November 24, The Lancet notes that nutritional and health issues caused by meat have now become a “pressing concern.”

However, in high income countries, Government efforts to curb consumption and thus curb weight gain were yet to display any meaningful effect.

“Most of these efforts are focused on sugar or fat,” the journal said.

“Similarly, the global ecological sustainability of farming habits has not been a major topic of conversation until the last few decades.

“It’s only now that we’re beginning to have a conversation about the role of meat in both of these debates, and the evidence suggests a reckoning with our habits is long overdue.”

Meat production doesn’t only affect the production of gases. Studies now question its effect on global freshwater use, change in land use and ocean acidification.

A recent paper in Science claims that even the lowest-impact meat causes “much more” environmental impact than the least sustainable forms of plant and vegetable production.

The journal noted that a PLoS One paper, which discussed health related taxes for red meat had also provided a valuable addition to the meat debate.

“The paper offers up some compelling claims as justification, including the suggestion that the health-related costs directly attributable to the consumption of red and processed meat will be US$285 billion in 2020, or 0·3% of worldwide gross GDP.

What’s more, 4.4 percent of all deaths worldwide would be casused by red or processed meat.

The publication says the question of what can be done is more challenging than the question of what should be done.

“Countries, and their citizens, should look to limit their consumption of intensively farmed meats, both for health and environmental reasons.”

Click on this link to view the full editorial in pdf format.

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