Need to talk about Meat


Every so often humanity needs to confront challenges that, though difficult and unpopular to talk about, needs to be discussed nonetheless. This is exactly what the very respected and reputable medical journal, The Lancet, did in an editorial published this year on November 24.

The title of the editorial was: “We need to talk about meat,” and it basically argues that humanity needs to seriously consider how to deal with the negative health and environmental impacts associated with meat consumption. It warns that such impacts are too grave to delay a serious discussion.

Below are some statements from that editorial:

“The emotionally charged debate over the ethical suitability of meat consumption may never reach a conclusion, but it is only comparatively recently that the climate impact of livestock rearing, and the nutritional and health issues caused by meat have become a pressing concern”

It's only now that we're beginning to have a conversation about the role of meat in both of these debates, and the evidence suggests a reckoning with our habits is long overdue

 A recent paper in Science claims that even the lowest-impact meat causes “much more” environmental impact than the least sustainable forms of plant and vegetable production. Population pressures, with global population predicted to increase by a third between 2010 and 2050, will push us past these breaking points.

So what is a healthy amount of red or processed meat? It's looking increasingly like the answer, for both the planet and the individual, is very little. Saying this is one thing. Getting the world to a place where we have the ability to balance the desire to eat whatever we want with our need to preserve the ecosystem we rely on to sustain ourselves is quite another. The conversation has to start soon.


This planet is indeed suffering from the impact of animal agriculture, and our bodies are suffering from many avoidable chronic diseases, many which are associated with meat intake. The editorial is absolutely correct, the time for a serious conversation about meat consumption is now.

Read the full editorial here.

George Cho