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Low meat diet book wins prestigious World Book Gourmand Award

Media release

Curtin University Sustainability Policy (CUSP) Institute researchers Talia Raphaely and Dora Marinova have been recognised at this year’s World Book Gourmand Awards, which annually honour the best food and wine books, printed or digital, as well as food television, from around the globe.

The book Impact of Meat Consumption on Health and Environmental Sustainability, edited by Dr Raphaely and Professor Marinova, won the Lifestyle award in the Sustainable Food category at this year’s awards in Yantai, China.

Putting aside the strong views against or in favour of eating meat, the book states findings from 29 leading international researchers, showing that a low-meat diet is an under-considered, yet essential, part in any suite of solutions that address sustainability and climate change.

Globally between 1961 and 2017, the average per capita meat consumption has increased from 26 to 47 kilograms per person, per year. In Australia, meat consumption is much higher.

“Meat consumption impacts all aspects of human life and humanity’s long-term survival prospects,” Professor Marinova said.

“The average Australian consumes about 98 kilograms of meat per year, compared to the USA’s about 97 kilograms per person annually, the European Union’s 69 kg and China’s 51 kilos per person per year.

“This is despite the fact that the World Health Organisation (WHO) categorises processed meat as a Category 1 carcinogen and red meat as Category 2A – probably carcinogenic to humans.”

Professor Marinova said it’s not just personal health that is affected by high meat diet, the environment also feels the effects.

“In addition to the global warming and climate change implications, eating high levels of meat has been shown to result in increased land and water pollution, lifestyle-related diseases, potential antibiotic resistance and global food vulnerabilities,” she said.

“On a 20-year horizon, the livestock industry has a greater global warming potential than the entire energy, buildings or transport sectors, noting that methane is 84 times worse than CO2 emissions.”

Professor Marinova highlighted that irrespective of personal opinion, the book isn’t about whether curbing meat consumption could solve human and ecological problems, but rather it presents a view that a simple change in personal diet choice could have a direct impact on the environment.

“The health and environmental consequences of vast-scale and industrialised meat production and consumption are the greatest challenge humanity has ever faced – but we can all individually help reduce these consequences simply by making a few more meals meat-free,” she said.

Notes to Editor:

The Gourmand World Cookbook Awards were founded in 1995 by Edouard Cointreau.  The 2017 Awards were held in Yantai, China on the 26-29 May.  More information about the awards can be found on the Gourmand International website:  http://www.cookbookfair.com/