A new study from Northstar on behalf of Madre Brava, a sustainable food NGO, suggests that only 0.5% of recent media articles on climate change in top-tier publications in English mention meat or animal agriculture as an emissions source causing the current climate crisis. The study surveyed around 92,000 articles, and fewer than 450 noted the contribution to climate change of meat production. 

According to a report by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organizations (FAO), animal agriculture accounts for at least 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions and it is the largest single driver of global deforestation and extinction of species. And yet, this important fact tends to be omitted by the media.

In 2022, Northstar polled over 7,000 adults across the five major meat markets, concluding that there is little awareness about industrial meat production, as 90% of respondents said they knew very little or nothing at all. Almost three-quarters of people from the UK admitted to knowing nothing about the issue. 

Rob Percival, a food policy author and campaigner with Soil Association, told Spotlight: “The science is actually quite clear. Average per capita consumption of meat and dairy needs to decline by at least 35-50 per cent if we are to meet our climate and nature targets, but there is still an important role for livestock in nature-friendly farming systems.”

Nico Muzi, managing director of Madre Brava, said: “We have to be very aware of the culture wars, but if we look at where people’s understanding is today, then we see a huge lack of awareness around industrial meat’s impact.”

Another 2022 study published in the journal Sustainability found that articles in major US newspapers between 2018 and 2020 gave equal weight to “both sides” in the discussion about whether animal agriculture is a major contributor to climate change. 

Jordi Casamitjana
“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.