Recognising the role of the livestock sector in human health and nutrition

Global livestock narratives have hit an interesting, and increasingly conflicting, point in recent history, with the often-lauded ‘livestock revolution’ accompanied by increasing ‘anti-livestock’ rhetoric driven largely by environmental concerns and calls to decrease, and in some cases halt, global production and consumption of animal-source foods altogether. However, while the world’s wealthier countries have ready access to a broad and diverse range of healthy plant-based diet alternatives, animal-source foods remain integral to the health and economies of an estimated 70% of the world’s rural poor. Moreover, existing opportunities for smallholder and pastoralist livestock-keepers to contribute to improved human health and nutrition are often overlooked by ‘blanket’ narratives that fail to appreciate the distinct differences between commercial and smallholder/pastoralist livestock systems. Smallholder livestock producers have opportunities to directly contribute to improved human health and nutrition through improving the quality, sufficiency and safety of animal-source foods. Livestock-keeping also has indirect benefits: for example, livestock-derived income can facilitate better and more diverse food choices, and promote health-seeking behaviour and illnessprevention measures. Good governance of smallholder livestock sectors that promotes the social, economic and nutritional benefits of livestockkeeping, while minimising environmental, welfare and public health impacts of livestock intensification, is a balancing act; but one that has never been more important as the world’s population continues to grow.

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 Record created 2019-02-01, last modified 2020-10-28

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