Shifting from animal to plant-based proteins could help in the climate change battle, an animal proteins summit heard.
By Clifford Akumu
Limiting the consumption of eggs, beef, and pork, could strengthen Africa’s resilience to climatic shocks, which have left about 4 million Kenyans hungry, World Animal Protection, an international animal welfare lobby, has said.
Animal proteins are an important source of nutrients, but their continued production has devastating consequences on human, animal, and environmental health.
“Intensive livestock production is fueling a triple ecological crisis of habitat loss, pollution and climate change,” said Tennyson Williams, regional director for Africa at World Animal Protection, calling for use of high welfare animal production systems.
“Food and systems of production are central to our wellbeing. We can still feed on animal protein(meat), but it should be from animals raised in high welfare production systems,” said Mr Williams at the inaugural Africa Protein Summit in Nairobi.
He added that overreliance on animal proteins has become untenable considering climate change, deforestation and spread of super-bugs; hence, the need to explore friendly alternatives.
“Let us hold the food system actors to account at all levels,” he said.
Consumption of animal proteins such as eggs, milk, pork, chicken, and beef has been increasing since the 1960s, especially from the 1980s to date. According to the Food and Agricultural Organisation, global meat consumption rose from 70-330 million tonnes.
Meanwhile, 80 billion land animals are raised for global food consumption annually. More than two-thirds of these are raised in cruel factory farms that affect their health and welfare.
Factory farming, said Dr Victor Yamo, farming campaign manager at World Animal Protection, is unsustainable and contributes to mass use of antibiotics, leading to resistance.
He said that per capita meat consumption in Africa is likely to rise from the current 14kgs to 26kgs annually. The average Kenyan consumes 15kgs of meat each year.
“It leads to loss of forests, biodiversity, and fuels antimicrobial resistance. Mindsets need to shift to recognise that planetary health and high animal welfare are integral to human, animal, and planetary health,” Dr Yamo said.
Speedy implementation of policies that strengthen the nexus between animals, animal welfare and planetary health, will push the continent to a climate-resilient future.
“A more holistic approach to livestock production, animal welfare, human health and environmental health is required,” said Dr Daniel Korir.
The summit, convened by World Animal Protection, brought together senior policymakers, campaigners, and researchers, to discuss dietary habits that can be adopted to boost climate resilience on the continent.