Ep7. Health, biodiversity, animal ethics

How do the four futures stack up?

Episode summary

We've heard four distinct visions for the future of meat and livestock. But realistically, won't they all play a role? As we wrap up the series in the next two episodes, we’re going to review what’s in conflict between the four futures and how parts of them might co-exist.


In this episode we ask three experts to consider different arguments presented by the four futures as they relate to health, biodiversity and animal ethics. We ask a professor of diet and population health if it’s better to eat some, a lot, or no meat; we ask a biodiversity expert about how the different futures would help biodiversity to recover; and we ask an animal ethicist about the morality of eating animals and to interrogate the ethical cases put forward by the four futures.


Read the transcript


Listen to each part

Part 1 - Is meat healthy? Separating evidence from opinion     (17 minutes)


Susan Jebb, public health nutrition scientist, discusses what are the nutritional guidelines around eating meat, is grass-fed beef better for you, and why is it so difficult to study people’s diets and health in the first place.

Susan Jebb

Part 2 - Producing food, Conserving biodiversity (11 minutes)


Professor Charles Godfray, population biologist and director of the Oxford Martin School at the University of Oxford, discusses a land use framework to optimize biodiversity, food production, carbon storage or some combination of them.

Charles Godfray

Part 3 - An ethicist weighs in on the future of meat (17 minutes)


Is it immoral to kill animals for food? And under what conditions is it most ethical to eat meat? We ask this to environmental and animal ethicist Bernice Bovenkerk at Wageningen University.

Bernice Bovenkerk


Scientific articles and related resources


Part 1 - Is meat healthy?

Feed: Feeding the future study (Oxford, 2023)


Reduction in UK red and processed meat intake, but more needed to meet our climate targets (Oxford, 2021)



Part 2 - Producing food, conserving biodiversity

Article: Food security and sustainable intensification (Charles Godfray and Tara Garnett, 2014)


Knepp Estate (2023)


Land use frameworks: integrating policies in England (2021)



Part 3 - An ethicist weighs in

Article: Taking animal perspectives into account in animal ethics (Bernice Bovenkerk and Eva Meijer, 2019)


The moral status of animals (Standford Encyclopedia, 2017)