• 10.04.16

We’re Creating A Protein Bubble That’s Going To Destroy The Planet

We need to divest from meat the same way we’re divesting from carbon.

We’re Creating A Protein Bubble That’s Going To Destroy The Planet
[Photo: andresrimaging/iStock]

In the last few years, there’s been increasing pressure on oil and gas investors to consider the math around climate change. Activists have pointed out, reasonably enough, that companies can’t do all the exploration they’re planning if we’re to stay within relatively safe global warming limits.


Now an investment action group is making a similar case around food production, saying there’s no way we can keep eating meat at the current rate either. We’re creating a “protein bubble,” they say, that can only be averted by substituting some meat with plants, which are less carbon intensive.

“The world’s over-reliance on factory-farmed livestock to feed the growing global demand for protein is a recipe for a financial, social and environmental crisis,” says Jeremy Coller, leader of the FAIRR (Farm Animal Investment Risk & Return) group. “Intensive livestock production already has levels of emissions and pollution that are too high, and standards of safety and welfare that are too low.”

[Photo: Photology1971/iStock]

The coalition includes London-based Aviva Investors and several Swedish state investment funds and it collectively controls assets totaling $1.25 trillion. It’s targeted major food producers and retailers including Nestle, Unilever, and Walmart.

There’s good research evidence that eating too much meat will lead to serious climate consequences. At current rates, food production could account for half the world’s carbon budget within three decades, one Oxford University study said–that is, the maximum amount of CO2 we can put into the atmosphere and stay within relatively safe global warming limits.

A report from FAIRR recommends alternatives to meat protein including dairy-free milks, grains, pulses and seeds, lab-cultured “meat,” and macro-algae like seaweeds. See more here.

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About the author

Ben Schiller is a New York staff writer for Fast Company. Previously, he edited a European management magazine and was a reporter in San Francisco, Prague, and Brussels.