The Cancun Declaration

Veg Climate Alliance has recently compiled a declaration, supported by thousands of people in the groups listed below. There are also translations of the declaration listed at the end.

Declaration on Meat Consumption and Climate Change

A call from people concerned about the future of all life on earth for a major shift to plant-based diets, to avoid an impending unprecedented global climate catastrophe.

[To be presented to the media and to world leaders and decision makers, including delegates to the UN climate conference, scheduled to be held in Cancun, Mexico, in December, 2010.]

According to the cover article by two World Bank environmental advisors in the November/December, 2009 issue of World Watch magazine, the livestock sector is responsible for at least 51 percent of all human-induced greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). A 2006 UN Food and Agriculture Organization report indicated that animal-based agriculture is responsible for more GHGs (in CO2 equivalents) than all the cars, planes, ships and other means of transportation worldwide combined. Making the situation worse, if current trends continue, global meat production is  projected to double by 2050, with the associated increase in GHGs negating the effects of many positive changes, making it very difficult, if not impossible, to reach the GHG reductions that climate experts believe is essential to avoid the worst effects of climate change. Technology-orientated solutions will not be adequate to sufficiently mitigate global warming. A major societal shift to plant-based diets is essential. Such a shift would have many additional benefits, including improved health, less dependence on oil and other fossil fuels, more efficient use of land, water, energy and other resources, and a reduction in deforestation, desertification, loss of biodiversity, soil erosion, water and air pollution and many other environmental problems.

To avoid a global climate catastrophe, it is urgent that governments, inter-governmental agencies, international donors and the development community, professional organizations, educators, religious, spiritual and political leaders and individuals, including artists and celebrities, as well as the media, promote effective steps to slow and ultimately reverse the consumption of meat and other animal products by supporting the recommendations indicated below and by providing the resources and political and economic backing necessary to achieve them. Nothing less than the fate of humanity and all life on earth is at stake and there is no time to spare.


  • Convert areas currently used to grow feed crops into forests to increase the absorption of CO2.
  • Initiate a protocol under UNFCCC (the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change) to reduce the consumption of meat and other animal products.
  • Introduce a significant tax on all meat sold, to create an incentive for people to shift toward plant-based diets and thereby providing an incentive for companies to produce more plant-based foods. The funds raised could be used to lower taxes/VAT on healthier and more climate-friendly foods (i.e. plant foods), educate people about shifting to plant-based diets, retrain people previously employed in the livestock industry, subsidize meat-producing companies willing to start producing plant-based alternatives, and establish sustainable food security programmes in developing countries, etc.
  • Increase awareness about the devastating impacts of meat consumption on climate, other environmental concerns, public health, hunger, water and energy scarcities, and animal welfare.
  • Implement carbon footprint labeling on meat products, as well as information about the negative health and environmental impacts.
  • Provide accurate information about plant-based diets and their many benefits.
  • Provide increased access to healthy and affordable plant-based foods.
  • Subsidize locally grown, organic plant-food production through subsidies and technical support for farmers.
  • Support and subsidize backyard garden projects, school gardens and other local garden projects because they strength local sustainable food systems and local food systems.
  • Support campaigns to reduce meat consumption, such as “Meatless Mondays.”
  • Provide a variety of plant-based options at schools and other public and governmental food programs, including at military bases.
  • Encourage food producers to expand the number of healthy, nutritious meat substitutes and create financial and other incentives to do so.
  • Use videos, the internet and other modern communication methods to educate people about the nature of the threats, the importance of actions to reduce them, and the health, environmental and other benefits of plant-based diets.
  • Stress that a major shift to plant-based diets is essential to help meet the GHG emissions reduction targets that scientists claim are essential to avoid major climate upheavals.
  • Encourage sustainable technologies and green, climate-friendly lifestyles.
  • Urge the delegates to the UN Cancun climate conference to stress in their final report that a major shift to plant-based diets is an essential part of efforts to avoid a climate catastrophe.

The Declaration is supported by (list in formation):

Brazilian Vegetarian Society, Brazil

Centro Vegetariano, Portugal

Coalition for Plant-Based Solutions to Feed All, International

Concern for Helping Animals in Israel (CHAI), Israel

Danish Vegetarian Society,  Denmark

Eco-Eating, USA

Global Vegetarians Against Climate Change (GVACC), Switzerland

Hong Kong Vegan Association, Hong Kong

In Defense of Animals, USA

International Vegetarian Club of Bejing, China

Jewish Vegetarians of North America,  USA

Helmut F. Kaplan, Austrian author and philosopher

Wam Kat, Dutch author and activist

Marti Kheel, American author

Nicolaas G. Pierson Foundation, Netherlands

Sítio Vegetariano, Brazil

The Vegetarian Mitzvah, USA

Veg Climate Alliance, International

VegNews Magazine, USA

Translations of the declaration

  • Chinese
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