An international survey of the global food system has found that nearly one-third of all food produced in the world comes from animals, a new study finds.
Animal husbandry was the top industry source of protein, followed by the production of meat, fish, dairy, eggs, and honey.
That was true even when countries considered food quality, according to the report published online today in the journal PLOS ONE.
The survey of more than 20,000 people, conducted in China and Mexico, was done to highlight the challenges that animal husbandy poses for human health.
“The fact that we are eating animals raises the question of whether or not we are taking the right steps to protect the planet,” said study author Dr. Mark Wigley, a professor of public health at the University of Oxford.
Animal agriculture accounts for up to 70 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Wigly said that when it comes to animal welfare, China is a leader.
“There’s a lot of attention being paid to animal husbandries, and China’s animal husbandhood is one of the highest in the global picture,” he said.
“China’s animal agriculture production, and their food production, is highly polluting.
And I think that’s one of their key areas of concern.”
Animal husbandries produce about 70 percent more greenhouse gas than their non-animal counterparts, and they account for about a third of all greenhouse gas.
The World Health Organization says there is “high concern” that food produced from animals will contribute to climate change, especially because of the environmental damage that they cause to water, soil, and biodiversity.
Wigley said it’s difficult to find accurate information about how much meat is produced in China, but estimates suggest that it accounts for about 30 percent of total meat consumption.
It also contributes to over 80 percent of animal agriculture’s greenhouse gases.
“They produce over 30 percent more meat than the rest of the globe, which means that they have the potential to make a significant contribution to climate warming,” he explained.
According to the World Health Organisation, between 1970 and 2016, meat production increased by an average of 1.8 million tonnes per year, while the amount of greenhouse gases produced from animal agriculture grew by nearly 2 million tonnes a year.
In China, about 85 percent of all meat consumed comes from non-livestock sources.
The survey found that 80 percent comes from animal husbandys.
In Mexico, about 40 percent of Mexican food is produced from non-“livestocks” such as pigs, goats, sheep, and poultry.
WIGLY said that Mexico is the world leader in the production and consumption of meat.
“It is a major source of meat consumption in the United States, Canada, Australia, and elsewhere,” he added.WIGLY noted that animals can produce more meat at home than humans, which helps explain why Mexico has a much higher meat consumption than the United Kingdom, France, or Germany.
“Mexico is the number one meat-producing country in the Americas,” he noted.
The study also found that about 1.5 million Mexican households use animal husbandies for the production or distribution of food, while another 1.2 million use animal husbands in the agriculture sector.
“We’re finding that for most of the population, the majority of animal husbandiness is not being used,” Wigily said.
The findings show that animal husbands account for a significant portion of the food production in Mexico, but that it’s not necessarily clear how much the majority is used for.
The majority of meat produced in Mexico comes from cattle and other animals.
But “the meat that’s being produced in agriculture and in the food service sector is predominantly meat from animals,” WIGELY said.
Wigsley said that there’s a range of ways in which animal husbandying is being done, but it’s likely that the vast majority of food produced by these industries is consumed.
“If you look at how much we’re eating in Mexico right now, it’s a pretty low percentage of the total food,” he stressed.
In terms of animal welfare concerns, Wiglys study found that animal abuse is an important issue for many people.
“In Mexico we see a lot more cases of cruelty, neglect, and exploitation of animals, particularly of small, young animals,” he continued.
“These are issues that can lead to a range and level of abuse, which can lead, unfortunately, to disease and death.”
Wigly noted that it can be difficult to know if the food is ethically raised, or whether it’s being treated with respect and care.
“I think that we have a lot to learn about how animals are being raised in the meat industry,” he concluded.
Wiggly said the study also showed that while the number of meat producers in Mexico is growing, there is a high level of inequality in terms of the percentage of jobs held