The future of meat belongs in a laboratory, the United Nations has warned.
The global body is urging consumers to reconsider their attitudes towards traditional livestock production which they stress has a catastrophic influence upon the environment.
Only plant-based diets and lab-grown meat can save us now, the UN argues as it pressures governments across the world to place an emissions tax on food.
While controversial, such taxation measures could transform the environment by reducing greenhouse gases and loss of wildlife habitat caused by red meat.
It comes after the UN’s Global Environment Outlook (GEO) report found that livestock production accounts for 77% of agricultural land globally.
The research project goes on to estimate that an emissions tax would save one billion tonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent within a year.
Not only that but the measures could inadvertently boost public health as consumers would be forced to lower their consumption of red meat - which has long been linked to cancer and obesity.
So how exactly does red meat detriment the environment? Research shows that beef generates at least six times the greenhouse gas emissions per kilo of protein as soya beans.
What’s more, red meat requires 28 times more land to produce than chicken and is reportedly a key driver of deforestation in he Amazon.
The GEO report - published every 5-7 years - is the brain-child of 250 scientists and experts from across more than 70 countries.
It states that food production needs to rise by 50% in order to cope with the booming global population - which is expected to increase by 2 billion people by 2050.
The hefty research concludes that a reduction in meat consumption is the sole solution to balancing growing demand against negative environmental influence.
The conclusion reads: “Reducing overall meat consumption as well as providing alternatives to conventional livestock production (eg through plant-based meat alternatives) would substantially reduce the agricultural land-use footprint.”
On lab-grown meat, the report says there is evidence that “production of cultured or in vitro meat requires smaller quantities of agricultural inputs and land compared with raising livestock”.
Synthetic meat, often referred to as “clean meat”, is created from stem cells that have been harvested from living livestock and then grown in a laboratory.
Although an unpopular concept, the venture promises to both eradicate animal cruelty and benefit the environment.