Meat is good for humans and the environment

Eating the right amount of meat does harms neither human health nor the environment. This is the conclusion reached by Assica, Assocarni e Unaitalia – the three major trade associations respectively representing beef, pork and poultry – by their project titled “Sustainable Meat”, which explains the point of view of producers as regards of nutritional, territorial, social and economic sustainability in the livestock sector.

The dossier proposes a new approach defined “environmental hourglass” which assesses the impact of food no longer in absolute terms but on the basis of the quantities actually consumed in a correct and balanced diet. Inasmuch, by following the right diet the average weekly impact of meat turns out to be equal to that of other products, such as fruit and vegetables.

“In recent years, meat consumption has become a subject of considerable attention and debate, largely as regards nutritional and environmental issues,” Eurocarne Post heard from François Tomei, Director of Assocarni, the National Meat Trade Association. We commissioned an external company (Life Cycle Engineering Research & Consulting) to create, together with a Scientific Committee comprising medical experts, nutritionists and sector economists, a new tool calibrated on the population and customs of Italy to dispel certain clichés affecting meat”.

“This report scientifically demonstrates,” Tomei continues, “that when we eat meat the impact we generate on the on the environment is similar to that of other foods, especially when compared to the quantities consumed in Italy, which are perfectly aligned with the indications of nutritionists. It also highlights how the increase in certain chronic diseases such as diabetes, overweight, obesity and hypertension, should be attributed to lifestyles, sedentary attitudes and high calorie foods (rich in sugars and fats) rather than in the consumption of meat products. Another myth to dispel concerns the topic of wastage of food in the meat sector: we have realised that this chain is one of the most virtuous in Italian agro-foods and can serve as a production model – even with a view to Expo 2015 – to ensure the sector’s economic and environmental sustainability against a background involving a 60% increase in demand for protein by the world’s population by 2050”.

This opinion is shared by Lara Sanfrancesco, Director of Unaitalia, the National Meat and Egg Union. “All too often, our sector has been subjected to heavy-handed attacks based on the alleged negative effects of eating meat for health and the environment, which are not supported by any valid scientific analysis. We therefore thought it would be useful to respond with serious studies based on authoritative third-party scientific sources. At least now we have a starting point with a wealth of content so we can play an active role debate”.

Sanfrancesco also pointed out that “rather than debunking a myth, we pointed out – or rather authoritative experts did so – that there are no absolute truths but that balance and awareness in choices and life styles make the difference. Eating meat in the right amounts, relying on the advice of doctors and nutritionists in relation to age and lifestyles not only does not cause harm but is actually essential in providing our bodies with all the nutrients needed to stay healthy and live better. Our task as meat producers is to inform and reassure consumers about the correctness of their choice, especially when faced by the inevitable confusion created by contradictory and alarmist messages that are often full-scale hoaxes that we find on the various information tools we use every day”.

Source: Eurocarne Outlook

The "Sustainable Meats" Project aims to identify the key topics, the state of knowledge and the most recent technical scientific trends, with the aim of showing that meat production and consumption can be sustainable, both for health and for the environment.