Produced by the Union of Concerned Scientists, the report – Grade A Choice? Solutions of Deforestation-Free Meat – reveals that almost 60 per cent of agricultural land is used to grow grain to raise beef cattle.
The growing appetite for meat in developing countries is driving deforestation in places such as Brazil, where vast swathes of rainforest are being cut down and cleared to make way for super-sized cattle ranches.
“Producing meat, especially beef, requires large amounts of land,” says the report. “Global meat consumption has increased in recent years—and much of the new land for meat production has come from clearing tropical forests. This trend is a leading driver of deforestation and a significant contributor to global warming emissions.”
Beef is a particularly “inefficient use of feed resources”, the report’s authors say, because it produces less than 5 per cent of the world’s consumed protein and accounts for less than 2 per cent of its calories – it takes 10kg of grain to produce 1kg of beef.
Land used to grow crops for livestock (“grains such as corn, legumes such as soybeans and forage crops such as alfalfa”, which is cut and fed to animals as hay) would be better used growing more food for greater numbers of humans, the report says.