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Can red meat be eaten as part of a sustainable diet?

Eating red meat three to four times a week in healthy, balanced meals provides essential nutrients recommended for good health and reduces the environmental impact of overconsumption.

To eat a sustainable diet, Australian research shows that all foods, including red meat, must be sustainably produced, and sustainably consumed.

Sustainable production

Australian research shows that food production and waste reduction practices have the greatest potential to reduce the impact of the Australian diet on the key environmental indicators e.g. climate, water and cropland scarcity

Sustainable consumption

All foods need to be eaten in amounts recommended in the Australian Dietary Guidelines. The amount of food eaten and wasted has the greatest impact on the environment – the more food produced, the greater the impact on the climate and natural resources such as water and cropland

Australia’s red meat and livestock industry’s Beef Sustainability Framework and Sheep Sustainability Framework , including its Carbon Neutral by 2030 Roadmap support sustainable production of Australian red meat.

These strategies are the best ways of reducing the environmental impact of red meat. Farmers like Rob McCreath are committed to producing red meat that can be eaten as part of a sustainable diet:

Are other foods more environmentally friendly than red meat?

Compared to other foods in the Australian diet, the water and cropland-scarcity footprints of Australian beef and lamb are relatively low. Some plant-based foods have higher water-scarcity footprints. Others, including pork and poultry, have higher cropland-scarcity footprints

The red meat industry’s CN30 Roadmap provides pathways for reducing the climate impact of beef and lamb production .

How can I reduce the environmental footprint of my diet?

The amount of food you eat and the amount of food wasted has the greatest environmental impact. Eating all types of food, including red meat, in line with the Australian Dietary Guidelines and reducing household food waste reduces your environmental impact whilst delivering essential nutrients recommended for good health.

Did you know?

  • On average, Australians eat 57g of read meat per day of (cooked weight) which is in line with the 65g per day recommended in the Australian Dietary Guidelines. The Australian beef industry has more than halved its net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions since 2005. This reduction in GHG is larger than any other sector in Australia.
  • It takes 73% less water for cattle to gain 1kg now than it did 30 years ago.