The surging demand for meat has led to the growth of industrial animal farms which contribute to a warmer, hotter, and unpredictable climate, World Animal Protection, and animal welfare organizations have said.
The group, at the end of the two-day African Protein Summit in Nairobi on Wednesday, October 20, said by eating less meat from higher welfare production systems and alternative proteins, there will be fewer greenhouse gas emissions, leading to fewer effects of climate change.
The summit also urged governments in Africa to place a temporary ban on industrial livestock systems that endanger animals and contribute to climate change.
Dr Victor Yamo, the farming campaigns manager at World Animal Protection, said skyrocketing demand for meat has billions of stressed animals mutilated and confined to cramped cages for their whole lives.
“Animals cruelly packed in such conditions are often immensely stressed, leaving them prone to infection by bacteria or parasites that can cause foodborne illness in humans, such as Salmonella,” Dr. Yamo said.
“We urge African governments to recognize the interconnectivity between public health and planetary impacts of industrialized farming systems and commit to stopping their support for these systems.”
Dr. Yamo said the commitment in the form of a freeze on industrial livestock production systems should be within the national climate action plans known as “Nationally Determined Contributions” (NDCs) in recognition of these systems’ contribution to climate impacts.
He said the African governments must also develop and implement national One Health, One Welfare action plans that recognize the health impacts of industrialized livestock and restrict its growth.
“We recognize that the change will be slow but sure and that systemic shifts are needed to deliver the biggest health gains for our population.”
“Some of those include re-orientating subsidies away from factory farming towards humane and sustainable practices, improving the affordability of plant-based foods, and providing transition support for farmers no longer wishing to engage in factory farming.” Dr. Yamo said.
According to available statistics, annual meat consumption has increased significantly in recent decades. While the average annual global consumption in 2010 was 41.5 kilograms per capita, it already amounted to 43.2 kilograms in 2019. For Uganda, in 2019, the meat food supply was 9.4 kg per capita per year.
It’s also projected that by 2050, global meat consumption will reach between 460 million and a staggering 570 million tons.
However, Mercy Nyangaresi, a nutritionist advised that Indulging more in plant protein consumption than animal proteins will help unburden healthcare systems and improve health.