Dairy cows in factory farm

FOUR PAWS Warns: Meat Is Eating up the Planet

As of today, Australia has consumed 100% of its maximum recommended yearly meat intake '


Sydney, 19 March 2024 – On 19 March, Australia reached its “Meat Exhaustion Day”, surpassing its maximum annual meat intake, as recommended by the scientific EAT-Lancet Commission. Download the Fact Sheet. 

The recommended amount of 301 grams per week actually equates to no more than 1.2 meat pies. 

According to the latest findings of global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS, twice as much meat is consumed worldwide than the planet or people’s health can digest.  

This is also causing massive suffering to animals, with 83.3 billion being slaughtered for meat every year. 

Australia’s meat intake is more than twice the yearly average global meat intake of 33 kg per capita. 

By the end of 2024, Australians would have, on average, consumed as much as five times more meat than what is healthy or sustainable for our planet. 

Animals: Animals slaughtered for consumption in 2021 in Australia amount to around 6.6 million cattle, 2.2 million pigs, 26 million sheep, and more than 677 million chickens.  

Environment: Meat production was responsible of the deforestation of 2.1 million hectares of land in Queensland and destroying habitats for 388 nationally threatened species and 14 threatened ecological communities according to a five-year study conducted from 2014/15 to 2018/19. 92% of all forests are cleared for livestock pasture. 

Health: The weekly consumption of red meat alone by Australians is estimated at an average of 691g and contributes to rates of diabetes, obesity, bowel and colorectal cancer. Meat consumption is 52% higher than the maximum suggested by the National Guidelines of 455g (that recommends consuming lead and unprocessed meat), and 86% more than the EAT-Lancet recommendation (98g).

"Globally, animal agriculture generates 16.5% of our total global greenhouse gas emissions. It is the second-highest source of emissions and amounts to more than the entire transport sector - all the world’s cars, trucks, ships and airplanes combined. 


Factory farming is setting the planet on fire and our excessive consumption of cheap meat is fuel to the flames. What’s more, animals bred and kept in Australian factory farms suffer in poor keeping conditions that cause major welfare issues including physical and behavioural distress, cruel husbandry practices, illnesses, injuries, and diseases.  


To save the climate, we must reduce our consumption of meat and end factory farming.” 

Rebecca Linigen, National Director, FOUR PAWS Australia

Australia needs to reduce its meat consumption by up to 79% to fit within planetary and health boundaries. 

To stop the hidden costs of meat and dairy consumption as well as production - such as massive suffering of animals, and detrimental effects on human health and the climate - FOUR PAWS urges governments to phase out factory farming and set policy targets for a food system change that offers sustainable diets in line with planetary boundaries. 


Global North needs to cut meat consumption by 70% 

Globally, “Meat Exhaustion Day” will be reached on 24 June 2024, yet many countries of the Global North are exceeding their recommended maximum meat intake as early as March and April. While the trend to higher meat consumption is also beefing up in the Global South, some countries of this region, for example India or Uganda, do not reach “Meat Exhaustion Day” at all. 


About Meat Exhaustion Day 

Meat Exhaustion Day is calculated by FOUR PAWS by comparing the average actual consumption of meat per person with the Planetary Health Diet, recommended by the renowned EAT-Lancet Commission. This panel of international scientists give guidance for what would be a consumption pattern that provides healthy food for a growing world population, within planetary boundaries. 


Download the Meat Exhaustion Day Fact Sheet and references. 

Meat Exhaustion Day

Meat Exhaustion Day

2024 Spotlight on AU

FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organisation for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need and protects them.

Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler and friends, the organisation advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. The sustainable campaigns and projects of FOUR PAWS focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, animals in fashion, farm animals, and wild animals – such as bears, big cats, and orangutans – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones.

With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA, and Vietnam as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in eleven countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions. www.four-paws.org.au

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