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  • Real Pork Trust Consortium

Eating Meat for Balanced Plates and Planet

Pork as part of a balanced diet can be appropriate for both local communities and the environment
Courtesy of the National Pork Board, Des Moines, Iowa

Dr. Pedro Urriola, an Assistant Professor of Animal Science at the University of Minnesota, summarized this peer-reviewed journal article written by Ty Beal, Christopher D. Gardner, Mario Herrero, Lora L. Iannotti, Lutz Merbold, Stella Nordhagen, and Anne Mottet. The review of research and opinions of these authors' findings discuss how animal-sourced foods, including meat, can be part of an environmentally sustainable food system.

Major Finding

This literature review and opinion paper suggest that animal-sourced foods, like meat and dairy, are packed with important nutrients that many people lack globally. Iron and zinc are two examples of essential nutrients found in high concentration in animal-sourced foods. For places like Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, eating more animal-sourced foods could improve nutrition.

Consumption of animal-sourced foods can deliver high-quality nutrients at many life stages in developed countries. Surprisingly, when animal-sourced foods are produced the right way, they can even help the environment by restoring biodiversity and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. 


Why It Matters

This research is crucial because it helps us make better decisions about what to eat. Some say animal foods are bad for health and the planet, but this study shows that's not the whole story. Depending on where you live and what you eat, animal foods can be good for you and the environment.

The writers of this review highlight that decisions about animal-sourced food growth and consumption should depend on local context – what’s best for the community and their health needs. By understanding these details, we can create smart rules and programs to guide people's food choices. It's not just about what's on our plates; it's also about taking care of our planet.

How the Research Was Conducted

This study looked at the pros and cons of foods from animals (animal-sourced foods), like meat and dairy, focusing on how they affect health and the environment. First, the authors checked health studies, looking at the good things animal-sourced foods bring and the risks they might have for our health. Then, authors shifted gears to see how animal-sourced foods impact the environment – the good and not-so-good parts. Lastly, authors explored other protein options, considering both health and environmental factors. While there are more aspects like animal welfare and safety, the focus here was on the big health and environmental issues related to animal-sourced foods.


Learn More

To learn more about the role animal-sourced foods can play in a sustainable and healthy diet in different global contexts, read the full peer-reviewed journal article.

Eating Meat for Balanced Plates and Planet
Download PDF • 229KB


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