There is a growing international consensus that transformation of food systems is key to addressing the challenges of malnutrition, non-communicable diseases (NCDs), environmental sustainability, increasing inequality and ensuring worker and animal welfare.
In light of the urgency of these challenges, there are questions about the role of red and processed meat in healthy and sustainable food systems. Globally, production and consumption of all types of meat have increased significantly over the past 50 years, and – although consumption of red meat is now emerging in high-income countries (HICs) – is predicted to increase by another 50% by 2050. Consumption remains highly uneven between and within countries, And consumption of animal-based foods, including red meat, was the lowest among those at risk of malnutrition.
This information summarizes the evidence on the role of red and processed meat production and consumption in health and environmental outcomes and in different sociopolitical contexts. It does not provide consumption recommendations, but rather represents the first step in a scoping process that may lead to World Health Organization (WHO) guidance on the role of red and processed meat in healthy diets from sustainable food systems. This information brief can be used to develop commitments and policy actions on climate change and food systems at the 28th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28) in late 2023 and beyond.
This science and evidence-based guide is concise and easy to read and includes a summary and key messages for each chapter. It is a useful resource for advocates, the public, technical staff, program managers, and decision makers interested in the topic of meat for human and planetary health.