Scientists claim going 50 percent vegan could curb climate change.
A new study suggests swapping half of your meat and dairy products for plant-based alternatives for the next 27 years could drop emissions by 31 percent.
The findings are based on agriculture and land use needed to raise livestock and grow crops.
However, previous research shows China alone produces more emissions than meat and dairy products combined, suggesting personal behavior may not be enough to save the planet.
A new study has suggested swapping half of your meat and dairy products for plant-based alternatives for the next 27 years would drop emissions by 31 percent
Meat-heavy diets risk our health and that of the planet, as livestock farming on a massive scale destroys habitats and generates greenhouse gases.
A 2021 study by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign found meat and dairy account for 57 percent of food-based greenhouse gas emissions.
The new study, published in the journal Nature Communications, aligns with the previous research, noting that going 50 percent vegan would reduce agriculture and land use.
Study co-author Eva Wollenberg of the University of Vermont said: ‘We’ll need much more than ‘Meatless Mondays’ to reduce the global GHG emissions driving climate change—and this study shows us a path forward.
‘Plant-based meats are not just a novel food product, but a critical opportunity for achieving food security and climate goals while also achieving health and biodiversity objectives worldwide.
The authors found a 50 percent substitution scenario would substantially reduce the mounting impacts of food systems on the natural environment by 2050. Pictured above are meatless burgers
‘Such transitions are challenging and require a range of technological innovations and policy interventions.’
The team looked at the global food security and environmental impacts of large-scale plant-based meat and milk consumption, considering the complexity of food systems.
The authors found a 50 percent substitution scenario would substantially reduce the mounting impacts of food systems on the natural environment by 2050.
These impacts included a 12 percent decline in global agricultural area, nitrogen inputs to cropland are nearly half of the projections, a 10 percent drop in worldwide water usage and a 31 percent drop in greenhouse emissions.
While many countries rely on meat and dairy as major food sources, researchers said their work determined undernourishment globally would decline to 3.6 percent – reducing the number of undernourished people by 31 million.
According to the study, impacts across regions could differ due to differences in population size and diets, unequal agricultural productivity, and participation in international trade of agricultural commodities.
The main impacts on agricultural input use are in China and on environmental outcomes in Sub-Saharan Africa and South America.
These regional differences could also be used to design better interventions.
‘The food sector produces roughly one-third of global greenhouse emissions—and has been notoriously difficult to de-carbonize,’ said Wollenberg.
‘Given the magnitude of benefits we show from substituting meat with plant-based alternatives for global sustainability, climate action, and human health, this research provides important food for thought for consumers, food producers, and policymakers.’