News lessons

UN says eat less meat

1. Key words

Fill the gaps in the sentences using these key words from the text

consumption simplistic contradictory livestock habitat
emission guidelines benefit regulate reduce
  1. An ____________________ is a substance, especially a gas, which goes into the air.
  2. If you ____________________ something, you make it smaller or less in size or amount.
  3. ____________________ is something positive you get from a particular situation.
  4. ____________________ idea treats something in a way that makes it seem simpler than it really is.
  5. ____________________ are official instructions or advice about how to do something.
  6. If two or more ideas are ____________________, they disagree with each other and cannot both or all be true.
  7. An animal’s ____________________ is the place it normally lives.
  8. If a government decides to ____________________ something, it controls it by making rules or laws.
  9. ___________________ is the collective word for animals such as cows, sheep and pigs that are kept on farms.
  10. ____________________ is the process of eating or drinking something.

2. Find the information

Look in the text and find the answers to these questions as quickly as possible.

  1. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization what percentage of global greenhouse gas emissions is roduced by meat production?
  2. How much meat protein does the average person in the UK eat each day?
  3. How much is UK meat consumption more than WHO guidelines?
  4. Which is the more effective global warming agent – methane or carbon dioxide?
  5. By what percentage does Compassion in World Farming want to reduce meat consumption by 2020?
  6. What percentage of UK emissions is produced by livestock?


The world’s main expert on global warming says people should give up meat for one day a week if they want do something that would help stop climate change. Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said that people should then continue to reduce the amount of meat they eat.

Dr Pachauri said it was important for people to change their diet because rearing cattle and other animals produced enormous amounts of greenhouse gases. It also caused other environmental problems, including the destruction of animal habitats. He said it was quite easy to change people’s eating habits – much easier than changing means of transport, for example.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has said that meat production causes nearly 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions. These gases are made during the production of animal feeds, for example, while animals such as cows produce methane gas. Methane is 23 times more effective as a global warming agent than carbon dioxide. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has also said that meat consumption will probably double by the middle of the century.

“Reducing meat consumption is the best option because we can do it almost immediately and it will reduce greenhouse gas emissions in a short period of time,” said Pachauri. “Give up meat for one day [a week] at first, and then continue to decrease it,” said the Indian economist, who is a vegetarian. However, he also said that other changes in lifestyle would help to stop climate change. “We really have to reduce consumption in every sector of the economy,” he said.

Pachauri can expect some strong opposition from the food industry, but he has received unexpected support from British restaurateur John Torode, who is about to publish a new book, John Torode’s Beef. “I have a little bit of meat and enjoy it,” said Torode. “Too much meat for any person is just being greedy. But there’s a more important question here: where the meat comes from. If we all buy British food and stop buying imported food, we will reduce our carbon emissions dramatically.”

Pachauri will be speaking at an event organized by animal welfare group Compassion in World Farming. The group has calculated that if the average UK home reduced meat consumption by 50% that would reduce emissions more than cutting car use by 50%. The group wants the government to try to reduce meat consumption by 60% by 2020. They also say that eating less meat is good for your health. The average person in the UK eats 50g of protein from meat a day – a relatively low level for rich nations but 25-50% more than World Heath Organization guidelines.

Professor Robert Watson, a government scientific adviser, said the government could help educate people about the benefits of eating less meat, but it should not ‘regulate’. “Eating less meat would help, there’s no question about that, but there are other things,” Watson said.

But Chris Lamb, head of marketing for a pig industry group, said it wasn’t fair to target the meat industry. He said the industry was working hard to find out which activities had the biggest environmental impact and was trying to reduce those activities. Some ideas were contradictory, he said. For example, one solution was to keep farm animals indoors, but this would be very bad for their health. “Climate change is a very young science and we think that some of the solutions which people are proposing are very simplistic,” he said.

Last year a report on the environmental impact of meat eating said livestock produced 8% of UK emissions – but eating some meat was good for the planet because some habitats benefited from animals eating grass. It also said that vegetarian diets included lots of milk, butter and cheese so they would probably not reduce emissions much because dairy cows produce a lot of methane.

Comprehension check

Match the beginnings and endings to make sentences about the text.

Reducing meat consumption by 50%… … changing means of transport.
Vegetarian diets do not hep reduce greenhouse gas emissions because… … could also help to stop climate change.
It is easier to change people’s eating habits than… … to cut meat consumption by 60% by 2020.
If British people stop buying imported food… … would reduce greenhouse gas emissions more than cutting car use by 50%.
Compassion in World Farming wants the government… … carbon emissions will fall dramatically.
Other changes in lifestyle… … they contain a lot of dairy products and dairy cows produce methane.

Two-word expressions

Match the words from the left-hand column with the words in the right-hand column to make expressions from the text. Check your answers in the text.

climate food
global habitats
environmental dioxide
animal adviser
methane change
imported impact
scientific gas
carbon warming

Rearrange these words to make phrases from the text. Check your answers in the text

1. the every in sector economy of
2. week for day one a
3. meat eat reduce the they of amount
4. the by middle century the of
5. short time of a period in
6. less health good for eating meat is your

Word building

Complete the table

verb noun
1 consume
2 emit
3 destroy
4 solve
5 oppose
6 support
7 benefit
8 produce