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October 25th, 2018 / Food Forever

Jimmy Smith, Director General, International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and Food Forever Champion writes:

In the United States last year, an estimated 6% of the population identified as vegan, a rise of 600% since 2014. On the other side of the Atlantic, the number of Britons who have removed animal products from their diets has risen by 360% in the last decade. And their reasons include some very good ones: concerns for the environment, personal health and animal welfare.

While it may seem as though some parts of the world are on a trajectory towards a meat-free future, the opposite is happening in some low- and middle-income countries, particularly in Asia: rising incomes – especially in urban areas – is leading to greater demand for meat, dairy and eggs.

t’s a more complex story here in Africa too, where recent OECD-FAO statistics indicate that annual per capita meat consumption (beef, veal, pork and poultry combined) is about one sixth of that in OECD countries. For most Africans, feedlots and hamburger chains are a distant fantasy, and every cow, goat or chicken is a precious asset. And a little milk, meat or eggs in the diet could make a huge difference to the nutritional status of millions who currently get far too little.

In fact, throughout the developing world, livestock perform important functions that might not be obvious to those in richer parts of the world. They turn un-farmable rangelands, tough grasses and leftover farm waste into nutritionally rich food. It’s one of the reasons the UN explicitly recognises the importance of livestock in its targets for achieving Zero Hunger. Approximately one billion people are involved in livestock value chains globally, with more than half of these in mixed farm and pastoral systems dependent on livestock for their livelihoods. They also provide draught power, organic fertilizer and are an important source of cultural pride. Read more