The environmental impact of food is being analysed extensively. While studies to date suggest removing meat and other animal products from Western diets may reduce personal carbon footprints and land use, this may slightly increase the water footprint of current diets. To avoid any unintended consequences, more research is needed to better understand the impact of food, including the development of more consistent measures, consideration of local (vs global) variations, and potential innovations to reduce the impact of food production.
Removing nutrient-dense animal source foods from the diet could also reduce intakes of some important vitamins and minerals typically provided by these foods in the diet. Meat can provide essential nutrients in our diets, as a protein-rich food source containing additional nutrients like iron, zinc and vitamin B12, in a form that is easier for our bodies to absorb. So, as we move forward towards a new and more sustainable future, reducing the environmental impact of eating and producing meat is a priority – not just for consumers, but for farmers, too.