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Should we decrease red meat consumption to protect the planet?

Dr. Heleen Haitjema, co-founder and board director of DFN, joined a debate on the new Sky News ‘The Jury’ program, and provided her expert opinion on the pressing need to decrease red meat consumption to counteract the damaging environmental and climate consequences of meat production.

The debate with Senator Susan McDonald, a former butcher and farmer, was sparked by the federal government’s decision to integrate food sustainability recommendations into its dietary guidelines. The farming industry has criticised this shift, labelling it as an ‘ideological agenda’ targeting red meat.

The Jury Sky News

While the program framed the debate as “Should we ban meat to save the planet?” Dr. Haitjema’s argument centered on the necessity of decreasing red meat consumption rather than advocating for an outright ban, which is in line with the UN Food and Agriculture stance on sustainable diets. In the short segment Dr Haitjema outlined not only the climate impact of excessive red meat consumption but also the detrimental impact that its production has on land and water use, its overall inefficiency, and its inherent polluting nature.

Watch the recording here

We also welcome you to read our article ‘From guidelines to greener plates: Australia’s necessary dietary shift’ where we explore how plant forward diets align with the principles of what constitutes sustainable diets as described by the FAO. That is ‘diets with minimal environmental impact, ensuring food and nutrition security for both current and future generations. These diets prioritise biodiversity and ecosystems, respect cultural diversity, and are accessible and affordable to all’. 

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