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Is It Time to Give Up Meat and Dairy?

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People are turning to flexitarianism for many reasons. Producing a lot of meat and dairy has a big effect on climate change. Eating a lot of meat and dairy is also problematic for animal welfare, our health, and food security. Learn more about the pros and cons of eating meat and dairy and follow Above the Noise host Myles Bess, a self-proclaimed meat lover, on his 7-day vegan journey.

TEACHERS: Get your students in the discussion on KQED Learn, a safe place for middle and high school students to investigate controversial topics and share their voices. Download lesson plan and get started on KQED Learn.

Plant-based foods are flying off the shelves. In just two years, sales of these products in the U.S. grew 29% to $5 billion. It’s grown even quicker since covid, due to meat shortages across the U.S. It seems people want to eat less meat and dairy without giving it up completely.

Are meat and dairy bad for the planet?
Absolutely. Giving up meat and dairy is one of the best ways to help fight climate change. Raising animals for food uses up too much land and water, and it raises greenhouse gases. To make matters worse, some of the land that’s cut down for animal agriculture is the same land that absorbs carbon dioxide.

Is meat bad for you?
There’s nuance here. Studies about food and nutrition tend to be controversial and there is a lot of conflicting info out there. But without a doubt, there is plenty of reputable research that suggests it’s not good for you to eat a ton of red or processed meat. And most people in wealthy countries like this one, eat more than they should.

What are some pros and cons of the meat and dairy industries?
Well, they’re not good for feeding the world. Turns out raising animals for food is a very inefficient way of feeding people. Almost half of the crops grown in the world are used just to feed those animals. So despite all the crops grown worldwide, still 820 million people don’t have enough to eat.


But these industries are good at making money. They’re ingrained in our economy, and the livelihoods of 500 million people worldwide depend on them. But these industries also exploit cheap and migrant laborers.

However, animal agriculture can play a role in reducing poverty, increasing gender equity, and improving livelihoods for people in poorer countries.


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