July 19, 2022 – No single human activity has a bigger impact on the planet than the production of food, Walter Willett, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, noted in a July 5, 2022, Boston Globe article.
The production of animal-based foods—particularly beef—is responsible for about half of the food system’s greenhouse gas emissions. What’s more, Willett said, cattle use far more resources than they produce in edible food, including about 45% of grain produced in the U.S.
“The whole system is unimaginably dysfunctional; it’s destroying our environment and our health at the same time,” Willett said. Frequent red meat consumption has been linked to increased risk of some types of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
Willett co-authored the 2019 EAT-Lancet Commission report, which called for global cooperation and commitment to shift diets toward healthy, largely plant-based patterns. The Globe article included other recommendations for making diets more sustainable, including eating local foods and a greater variety of vegetables, and cutting and composting food waste.
Read the Boston Globe article: 7 recommendations for reducing the environmental impact of your diet
Why plant-based diets are good for human and planetary health (Harvard Chan School news)