Every year 65 billion animals are raised and slaughtered for their meat. That’s nine animals for every person on Earth. In this eye-opening documentary Michael Mosley reveals the damage livestock farming is doing to the planet.
Livestock have a massive impact on the environment. Nearly a third of the planet’s ice-free land surface is devoted to raising the animals we either eat or milk. Thirty percent of the crops we grow are fed to animals.
The latest UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (UN FAO) estimates suggest that livestock are responsible for 14.5% of man-made greenhouse gas emissions – the same amount produced by all the world’s cars, planes, trains and boats put together. It is also predicted that meat production is going to double in the next 40 years.
Can the planet cope with our ever increasing appetite for meat, and what meat should we be eating if we want to minimise our impact on the world?
Visiting vast, intensive farms – like the American feedyard where 50,000 cattle are fed a scientifically designed diet of corn and chemicals – as well as free range organic farms, Michael finds out what sort of meat we should be eating and whether there is an eco-friendly way to raise it.
Is it possible to be an eco-friendly carnivore? Michael also meets the farmers who think that a return to more traditional farming methods, a more efficient use of our food waste and a little cutting back on personal consumption of meat could mean meat for everyone without damaging the planet.
BBC Earth is on Starhub Channel 407.