How can low carb be good for the planetary ... - Healthy Eating

Healthy Eating
46,552 members8,362 posts

How can low carb be good for the planetary health?


Yet another report. More than 11,000 scientists from 153 countries have signed a declaration of climate emergency, urging people to eat less meat.

And just in case you thought eating fish was good for plantary health.. . A new report confirms that most of the plastic in the ocean comes from discarded fishing gear. If we want to protect our oceans we must stop fishing.

Part of the issue is the destruction of biodiversity. A decade-long study shows a 40% dropoff in insect biomass — which scientists have dubbed as a "frightening" decline.

We must move away from pesticide-intensive agriculture to save biodiversity, which largely exists to support crops for animal feed.

So, never mind my own perspective that it is bad for personal long term health, how can anyone here justify eating a low carb meat based diet when seemingly by definition it is unsustainable for the planet?

20 Replies

We've had this debate before, Andy. You're conflating problems inherent in industrial agriculture with the act of meat-eating. They are not even remotely the same thing. As I've explained before:

a) It's perfectly possible - indeed desirable - to have a certain number of animals on farmland.

b) Eating less meat does not necessarily imply that you'll have more land for growing crops, and you most certainly won't be able to eliminate fertilizers and herbicides. It's more likely that you'll need more of them, thereby accelerating ecological collapse.

You're entitled to believe what you want to believe. But I think it's important that people (and most especially governments) don't buy into simplistic arguments about "destruction" caused by animals. Most of the destruction is caused by two-legged ones.

You're also conflating "low carb" with "carnivore". Again, these are not the same thing. There are several vegetarians in the LCHF group, most LCHFers don't eat more meat than anybody else does, and there's a big overlap between the LCHF philosophy and the whole foods/slow food movement. Most of what's on a low-carb plate is vegetables ... much like your own.


The one thing I need to understand is how we fertilise the crops without pesticides, if we don't have animal input?

Also there are low carb vegans/vegetarians, so it would be best not to mix up the terms LCHF and omnivore.

andyswarbs in reply to Cooper27 covers the disadvantages of pesticide use very comprehensively.

So why are pesticides used? They are used because we are scrabbling to use as much land as possible for farming animals. In that race we rob the land of all its nutrients as fast as we can. Pesticides are then a technical solution to make it usable again. So go back to square one and ask why are we demanding so much land. The answer is farming animals, not just land reserved for the animals themselves but also growing crops to feed those farm animals. One calculation is that if the world was all eating pasture-raised farm animals we would need 2 or 3 planet earths to provide enough land. So pasture-raised animal farming is not an answer.

Take the farm animals out of the equation and we need so much less land to feed the planet. One immediate effect of this is the land can then take time to regenerate itself. Also biodiversity can and will increase dramatically and naturally. Instead of just having hedges at the edge of fields we can have those fields reverted immediately to places suitable for bees and a whole host of animals that struggle to survive in the smallest of hedgerows.

Fields suitable for growing crops would be still used for that purpose. Land that is unsuitable for crops would be rewilded.

Permaculture is the subject that covers non-pesticide most comprehensively.

However if animals are so important for good crop land then I don't see a problem in rearing some animals to help feed some crop land if that is a proven way to create good crop land. But I don't see why we need to also kill those animals when they are babies: instead they should be allowed to grow old and die naturally with their families around them.

Cooper27Moderator in reply to andyswarbs

There's a couple of points here:

Ok, this answers half the question, but if we completely remove the need for crops for animals, we still need to grow crops for humans. How do we fertilise crops for human consumption without anything artificial, if we don't have enough animal manure? How do we avoid the use of pesticides on human food?

Also bear in mind that a lot of the food given to farm animals is actually by-product of human food production. I've heard figures saying that 90% of cattle feed in America is actually waste crop from soya production for human consumption. We can only eat a small proportion of the crop ourselves, while animals can digest the stalk, husk etc. What will we do with all that byproduct waste?

andyswarbs in reply to Cooper27

I don't know how one can describe the 90% of soya crop used for animal consumption as a "waste" crop. That must be the main use of that crop. A similar story is for corn. If anything human consumption is the waste!

As I say, if animals are so absolutely necessary for crop health then rear them by all means. But let them live a long and natural life with no threat of being used for dairy or being killed at slaughter.

Cooper27Moderator in reply to andyswarbs

But we then get into a negative loop: we still need to grow crops to feed the animals, thereby not reducing our impact at all. We also need to consider whether these animals are now wild or whether they are owned, in which case, who is responsible for any disease break out? Vet fees? What happens to their bodies when they die? It's a costly affair to rear an animal, and I think it would drive to artificial fertilisers to save money, but that's very destructive to the planet.

What we do know is that modern agriculture is just not good for the planet in general. I will try to dig out some more info on the food by-products stuff though, as it's definitely common here too. What I would say is that it's very easy to distort the information. If humans can only eat 10% of a plant and an animal eats the remaining 90% (byproduct), it's not lying to say that 90% of the crops grown are used for animal feed.

andyswarbs in reply to Cooper27

I don't think we will need cow manure in the long term. I think we will go through an transition period as farmers learn new and relearn old techniques. The "73 cows" guy is quite interesting because he too thought that we needed to breed cows for good quality manure. The interview I posted below refers to this with regard to heritage crops.

Cooper27Moderator in reply to andyswarbs

I will check it out, thanks.

I think that’s sweet ‘let the animals grow old and die naturally’; not very practical but sweet.

Why is it so impractical to let animals live a long and natural life? The argument is being made that we somehow need farm animals for their manure. If that is the case, then they will produce their manure from the day they are born to the day they die. Replacing one cow with another cow does not increase the amout of manure or change its quality. So why not let that animal live happily without the threat of abuse?

If you want living examples then go visit an animal sanctuary. There are some who previously were animal farmers who have decided that raising animals to be killed is not acceptable anymore. For a starter see the award winning short film 73 cows, here is an interview with that farmer.

Yes, of course this cannot be done overnight. The process will take decades, if not longer. Just that less and less new babies will be born to be raised for slaughter.

Feeding and sheltering an animal also providing health care, costs money. Cows are here because they are a food source and no other reason, that I can think of. I know where my beef comes from.

Most people shop at restaurants, supermarkets and takeaways and do not know where their cow meat come from.

Because of the decline in UK sales UK animal farmers are exporting signinificant levels of meat to countries like China. Do you think chinese people should buy local and that it is irresponsible for UK animal farmers to export such long distances?

Years ago we bought lamb from New Zealand. I imagine transporting food is much quicker and easier. So lucky Chinese people.

Kai-- in reply to andyswarbs


👍👍 . . . [Thank you kindly, andyswarbs. 🙏 😌]

Full 15-minute documentary: ,


🐄🐄🐄🐄🐄🐄🐄🐄🐄🐄 . . . 🐄🐄🐄🐄🐄🐄🐄🐄🐄🐄

🐄🐄🐄🐄🐄🐄🐄🐄🐄🐄 . . . 🐄🐄🐄🐄🐄🐄🐄🐄🐄🐄

🐄🐄🐄🐄🐄🐄🐄🐄🐄🐄 . . . 🐄🐄🐄🐄🐄🐄🐄🐄🐄🐄

🐄🐄🐄🐄🐄🐄🐄🐄🐄🐄 . . . 🐄🐄🐄 73 Cows


Profoundly moving. 😌 🥰

Reaffirms (to me) that to keep our soul 👻 intact, we need to cease participating in ‘soul destroying’ activities. We need to follow our moral compass 🧭 . . .heed our inner voice 😌💭 . . . The answers are already within us. We just need to hear👂 , follow 👣 , & trust the guidance (wisdom) of our ‘better natures’ 👼 . . . Thank you for the reminder, andyswarbs. 😌 🙏 🍀 🌺 🌞


Again, you're creating false dichotomies to support your point. Have a look at farmers like Joel Salatin and Sepp Holzer. As far as practically possible, they allow their animals a free and full life. They are not slaughtered at a young age - pastured beeves may live for several years before they're ready for market. Pigs may be slaughtered at 18 months instead of 6-9 months. Dairy cows in these systems are often kept for many, many years, sometimes until they die of natural causes. Same with laying hens. They are indeed valuable for their manure (and their foraging activity) long after an animal would be slaughtered as "useless" on an industrial farm.

Nevertheless, there are always circumstances where the farmer needs to kill some animals. Nature is cruel: animals get diseases, especially as they age. Males are almost all useless: only the best are kept for breeding. The rest, ideally, are raised for meat. A farm is not a rescue centre. It has to make money. But profit is perfectly compatible with the humane raising of meat. If you personally don't want to eat animals, that's your choice. I get it; I like animals too and will never kill anything needlessly. I rescue cockroaches and bugs from sticky predicaments. But somewhere along the line, most people manage to make peace with their carnivorous nature.

I don't know of any vegan rule that says killing an animal out of compassion is at all wrong. Personally I have absoluteley no problem in killing any animal myself that is suffering beyond help. I would do that myself wthout hesitation out of compassion. If you ask any vegan community you will get a resounding yes, kill the animal out of compassion. After all the vegan tenet is to minimise suffering in animals.

Also animals kill each other to survive. That is their instinct. And as yet I know of no non-humal animal that has a moral compass. Humans, on the other hand do have morals and ethics. It helps bring about what we call civilisation. We have the ability decide whether killing animals for food is right or wrong. We can choose.

A lion does not go into a supermarket and choose what "meat" to eat. It truly smells its living prey and goes after it. If the hunt is successful it eats it there and then. If a rat is found in a supermarket the animal will be killed asap. On the other hand 99% of humans go into a supermarket and choose. We stand above nature, or at least we do not inhabit the same natural environment that animals live in.

My nephew rears animals on his smallholding (80 acres). He takes in unwanted generally animals and allows them to grow old. One of his cows fell & died in a stream just the other day. He only eats the meat from animals he has raised. He acts as advisor to the Welsh government on the subject. So I know something about smallholdings almost first hand. But that is not enough to feed the planet. It is very expensive to do and is only available to people who live a rural life. By contrast most people live in towns & cities, where the supermarkets are.

I don't agree with him eating his meat or drinking his cow's raw milk, but I know he has thought a lot about the subject and has worked out what makes sense right now for him. And making a farm pay its way is not an easy thing!

You know that for me, taking a life needlessly is not acceptable. Since one can live healthy and long lives as a vegan, then I see killing animals as needless.

As more people go vegan the meat & dairy industry is changing. The big ag companies have seen the writing on the wall and are investing heavily in plant alternatives. They will not be caught out as that pace of change increases. The small farmer for whom it is everything, they will be the ones who are challenged to adapt. I just wish the vast subsidies paid to farmers can be used to help them adapt their businesses so they survive.


I don't think that anyone has to justify their food choices. As we have several issues here all lumped in together. Intensive farming is depleting the soil of vital nutrients and robbing nature of diversity and is self destructive as it's powered by greed and consumer greed for unreasonably cheap food.

We as a society especially in the richer western world have to stop demanding cheaper and cheaper options but go for options that are sustainable for our health and the health of our planet. So greed by adding growth hormones to animal feed must stop as must other unsustainable intensive farming methods.

I think the planet would be a lonely place without farm animals and it's how the animals are raised and yes cows give off methane well so do politicians and politicians cover lots of miles/air-miles canvassing for their agenda in cars and planes and it's our never ending consumer society lifestyle that needs changing as we as humans have to live in harmony with Mother Nature and not against or we will end up with a barren world.

I for one am just so bored with red meat being vilified when there is a massive difference in a natural healthy and nutritious cut of meat and a highly salty processed fatty processed meat product that lacks nutrition but is calorie dense.

We have diabetes and obesity at record levels and growing like an epidemic now this is not the fault of farmyard animals...So obviously a low carb meat based diet is an option for people in this situation.

So lets take a step back and treat the illness of over consumption of highly processed sugary fatty foods combined with cheap highly processed meat products lacking in nutrition with a sustainable planet friendly farming methods and a healthy diet that works for us and not against us.

We as a society have to stop over consuming that is the core of our problems in our never ending consumer society, methinks.

TheAwfulToad in reply to Jerry

>> yes cows give off methane well so do politicians

LOL. Quite!

Lesley1234567 in reply to Jerry

You are so right Jerry and very well said. There is far too much food wasted today and too much eaten. We should teach our children to be mindful of the food they waste and how much they actually eat too. Just like to add do we really want farm animals to become extinct? 🙂

How will a planet-full of sick people help? We are designed to get most of our energy from natural fat. When we turned to agriculture, the human-race's chronic ill-health plummeted.

If our diet is affecting the planet's climate, it's because there are too many people.

You may also like...