SYMPOSIUM 'THE ROLE OF RUMINANTS IN SUSTAINABLE DIETS'

June 21, 2019

The event aimed to attract an international audience of stakeholders and organizations that are active in the livestock sector, food and environmental policies or related activities. The speakers discussed topics like the facts and fiction around livestock and its environmental impact, methane reduction strategies for cattle, and why methane should be treated differently compared to other greenhouse gases, the sustainability of meat and dairy and whether or not livestock is essential for food and resource security and climate change reduction.

Main outcomes:

  • Dairy is good for you. There is no evidence that saturated fat is bad for you - milk contains important nutrients.
  • Methane in agriculture is part of a carbon cycle (almost equal to the emissions of sinks) and as long as livestock herds stay constant, the impact of a vegan diet is marginal. The usual argument of upcycling of cows was brought up and food waste was marked as a major problem to address. The EAT-Lancet report was heavily criticized.
  • People disbelief the evidence that no other sector can claim to capture carbon (if you count forestry & ag in one sector). Opportunities lie with livestock consuming 1/3 of global cereal production, which could be further reduced, especially when ruminants can upcycle lots of unedible protein.
  • People like and still eat dairy but they want the "social right" to consume (vs. vegans, etc.). Resposibility lies wih the dairy sector to help them change how they communicate to younger generations
  • GWP doesn't present methane in aa good light; stable methane emissions don't increase temperatures, instead higher emissions increase them drastically BUT lower methane emissions could even help lower temperatures!
  • Ruminants improve soil quality and produce biodiversity. They can produce protein from grasslands and marginal croplands but also consume the waste by-products from food production.