The Meat Crisis : Developing more Sustainable and Ethical Production and Consumption book cover
2nd Edition

The Meat Crisis
Developing more Sustainable and Ethical Production and Consumption

ISBN 9781138673298
Published August 21, 2017 by Routledge
398 Pages 46 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Meat and dairy production and consumption are in crisis. Globally, 70 billion farm animals are used for food production every year. It is well accepted that livestock production is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) predicts a rough doubling of meat and milk consumption in the first half of the 21st century, with particularly rapid growth occurring in the developing economies of Asia. What will this mean for the health and wellbeing of those animals, of the people who consume ever larger quantities of animal products, and for the health of the planet itself?

The new edition of this powerful and challenging book explores the impacts of the global growth in the production and consumption of meat and dairy, including cultural and health factors, and the implications of the likely intensification of farming for both small-scale producers and for animals. Several chapters explore the related environmental issues, from resource use of water, cereals and soya, to the impact of livestock production on global warming and issues concerning biodiversity, land use and the impacts of different farming systems on the environment. A final group of chapters addresses ethical and policy implications for the future of food and livestock production and consumption.

Since the first edition, published in 2010, all chapters have been updated, three original chapters re-written and six new chapters added, with additional coverage of dietary effects of milk and meat, antibiotics in animal production, and the economic, political and ethical dimensions of meat consumption. The overall message is clearly that we must eat less meat to help secure a more sustainable and equitable world.

Table of Contents


Hilal Elver 


Joyce D'Silva and John Webster 

Part 1: The Impacts of Animal Farming on the Planet 

1. How to raise livestock – and how not to 

Colin Tudge 

2. The water footprint of animal products 

Arjen Hoekstra 

3. Livestock and climate change  

Tara Garnett 

4. Golden fields, burning forests and hungry people: how corn and soy are impacting us all 

Joyce D’Silva 

5. Animals on the land: from desert to pasture and woodland 

Albert Bernues 

6. Does organic farming offer a solution? 

Richard Young 

Part 2: Farming Practices and Animal Welfare 

7. Beef and dairy: the cattle story 

John Webster 

8. Cracking the egg 

Ian Duncan and Claire Weekes 

9. Cheap as chicken 

Andy Butterworth 

10. Sustainable pig production: finding solutions and making choices  

Alistair Lawrence and Emma Baxter 

11. Fish: welfare, environmental and health impacts 

Steve Kestin 

Part 3: The Implications of Meat Production for Human Health 

12. Industrial animal agriculture’s role in the emergence and spread of disease 

Michael Greger 

13. Antibiotic use in farm animals: the global threat 

Coilin Nunan 

14. How much meat is optimal for health? 

Mike Rayner and Peter Scarborough 

Part 4: Politics, Philosophy and Economics 

15. Developing ethical, sustainable and compassionate food policies 

Kate Rawles 

16. The politics and economics of farm animal welfare and sustainable agriculture 

Peter Stevenson 

17. Religion, culture and diet 

Martin Palmer 

Part 5: Devising Farming and Food Policies for a Sustainable Future  

18. Policy strategies for a sustainable food system: options for protecting the climate 

Stefan Wirsenius and Fredrik Hedenus 

19. Meat and policy: charting a course through the complexity  

Tim Lang, Michelle Wu and Martin Caraher 

20. Towards improved farm animal welfare: the impact of international standards and consumer pressure 

Carol Mc Kenna 

21. Confronting policy dilemmas 

Jonathon Porritt

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Joyce D'Silva worked for Compassion in World Farming from 1985 to 2016, including fourteen years as Chief Executive. She now does consultancy work. She lectures internationally and has published widely on farm animal welfare, including co-editing 'Animals, Ethics and Trade' (Earthscan, 2006). She has been awarded honorary doctorates by the Universities of Winchester and Keele, UK.

John Webster is Professor Emeritus at the University of Bristol, UK. He was a founder member of the Farm Animal Welfare Council and is a former President of both the Nutrition Society and the British Society for Animal Science. His books include 'Animal Husbandry Regained' (Routledge, 2012), 'Understanding the Dairy Cow', 'Animal Welfare: A Cool Eye towards Eden', and 'Animal Welfare: Limping towards Eden'.


"This new edition of The Meat Crisis makes an even stronger case for radically rethinking our food and farming systems and transforming our diets." - Joanna Lumley, OBE, actor and campaigner

"This new enlarged and enriched edition makes both enthralling and chilling reading. You will be in no doubt as to why factory farming is so unsustainable, not just for the animals, but for the health and survival of humanity and the planet." - Philip Lymbery, Chief Executive, Compassion in World Farming, and author of 'Farmageddon'

"If you care about climate change, suffering, sustainability, and rights, you need to care about the meat crisis. With hard data and compelling logic, the authors in this collection show just how little the meat industry cares for the consequences of their business model, one on which the planet is gradually becoming hooked. Happily, there are solutions here too – ones that are worth heeding. For a world without Big Meat, the ideas in this book are invaluable." - Raj Patel, Research Professor, Lyndon B Johnson School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin, US