July 2021

Living well on leftovers: the potential of nutrient recycling to contribute to a reduced livestock sector, within planetary boundaries

We need to eat significantly less meat but is it necessary to cut out meat and animal products from our diets completely? Our paper describes the important role that livestock should play at recycling unavoidable food waste in the food system and defines what less and better meat really looks like. Our evidence based definition of ‘better meat’ is meat from animals that are reared only on food waste and by-products and do not graze or eat crops from land that could be used to grow human-edible crops. In fact, eating some meat, fed exclusively on leftovers, maximises the nutritional output of our land and uses less land than a vegan diet.All this can be done safely by treating the food waste in specialist treatment facilities.

Its important that money saved from feeding animals on leftovers does not lead to an increase in industrial livestock, or this will undo the climate benefits. The climate and land footprint of the UK’s pigs and chickens is predominantly abroad as the feed is imported. Our leftovers model creates a real opportunity to end the reliance on feed imports and their devastating effects on rainforests and the climate.

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