Is the Aussie barbeque bad for the planet?

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Should we halve our meat consumption for the health of our population and the world's environment?

That's the question being debated by scientists at the next Debate @ The Waite on Thursday 21 March held by the University of Adelaide's Waite Research Institute.

Australia is among the top meat-consuming nations of the world, eating on average almost 108kg of meat annually per person, compared to Britain at 84kg, China 58kg and India at 4.4kg.

In Australia, methane emissions are estimated to account for 10% of Australia's total greenhouse gas emissions. But if we reduced meat consumption, could we produce the large amounts of plant foods to feed us? Could we ever be the nation that says "throw another veggie on the barbie"?

At Debate @ The Waite, two teams each of three speakers will debate the issues around meat consumption including: the environmental impact of animal production through methane emissions, fertiliser and water use; chronic health issues associated with a heavy-meat diet; the Aussie cultural identity and the right to choose our own lifestyle; the benefits to Australia's economy; nutritional benefits of meat.

The debate question is 'Cutting Australia's meat consumption by half will be better for us and the planet'. The moderator will be Dr Paul Willis, Director, Royal Institution of Australia and the audience will vote to see who wins.

Speakers on the affirmative side are:

  • Professor Randy Stringer, Professor of Agriculture and Food Policy, Global Food Studies Group, School of Economics, University of Adelaide;
  • Professor John Crawford, Judith and David Coffey Chair in Sustainable Agriculture, University of Sydney;
  • Professor John Coveney, Professor Public Health and Associate Dean in the School of Medicine, Flinders University.

Speakers on the negative side are:

  • Professor Bob Gibson, FoodPlus Research Centre, School of Agriculture Food and Wine, University of Adelaide;
  • Associate Professor Rachel Ankeny, Food Studies, School of History & Politics, University of Adelaide;
  • Associate Professor Wayne Pitchford, School of Animal & Veterinary Sciences, University of Adelaide.

WHAT: Debate @ The Waite - 'Cutting Australia's meat consumption by half will be better for us and the planet'.
WHEN: 6.00PM-8.30pm, Thursday 21 March
WHERE: Lirra Lirra Cafe, Waite Road, University of Adelaide's Waite Campus, Urrbrae
COST: Free but registration is essential at


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