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Food Externalities

11 Mar. 2024

Environmental Co-benefits of Health Policies to Reduce Meat Consumption: a Narrative Review

Bonnet C.

Coiron M.

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Global meat consumption has risen steadily in recent decades, with heterogeneous growth rates across regions. While meat plays a critical role in providing essential nutrients for human health, excessive consumption of meat, particularly red and processed meat, has also been associated with a higher risk of certain chronic diseases. This has led public authorities, including the World Health Organization, to call for a reduction in meat consumption. How governments can effectively reduce the health costs of meat consumption remains a challenge as implementing effective policy instruments is complex.

This paper examines health-related policy instruments and potential economic mechanisms that could reduce meat consumption. Health-related taxation could be the most effective instrument. Other policy instruments, such as informational and behavioral instruments, along with regulations, could discourage meat consumption depending on the policy design. We also provide evidence on the link between meat consumption and the environment, including climate, biodiversity, water use, and pollution. Promoting healthy behaviors by reducing meat consumption can then have environmental co-benefits and promote broader sustainable development goals. We also discuss the policy-related challenges that need to be addressed to meet environmental co-benefits.

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