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Report on meat production and consumption: should the focus be on ruminants or monogastrics?

This report by Compassion for World Farming discusses the potential effects of a reduction in meat consumption in relation to the difference between ruminants such as cows and monogastrics such as pigs and poultry.

Reductions in consumption of animal produce from ruminants has a number of environmental and health benefits which, according to some, exceed those of reducing consumption of meat from monogastrics. However, this report notes that a higher proportion of meat consumption coming from monogastric animals would be detrimental for animal welfare. This is primarily because expansion in pigs and poultry is likely to occur in an industrial production with typically low animal welfare standards.

The report argues that extensive ruminant production has major environmental, food security and public health benefits compared to industrial pig and poultry production.

Other papers have explored the debate around monogastric versus ruminant meat production and have not always reached the same conclusion as this report. You may want to have a look at the following:

  • FCRN report on efficiency entitled ‘Lean, green, mean, obscene…? What is efficiency? And is it sustainable?’ which considers the differing inputs to monogastric and ruminant livestock production as well as their different environment impacts: here.
  • Short FCRN publication on livestock feed and food security: here.
  • FCRN briefing paper on intensive versus extensive livestock systems
  • and greenhouse gas emissions: here.
  • A summary of a journal article which looks at the effect of changes in UK food consumption on land requirements and greenhouse gas emissions both in the UK and overseas: here.
  • FCRN report on possible livestock futures based on different underpinning ideologies entitled 'Gut feelings and possible tomorrows: (where) does animal farming fit?‘: here.

The Compassion for World Farming report is available here.


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