Home Science & Technology You don’t need to throw meat to save the planet – just...

You don’t need to throw meat to save the planet – just eat less


In April The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has abolished Fr. grandiose report exploring how people can mitigate the worst effects of climate change. The whole report is almost 3,000 pages long, but what you really need to know is coming 50 pages y and lists all the ways we can reduce emissions right now.

The transition to wind and solar energy is marked as the two shifts with the greatest impact. But just below there is the weird: “transitioning to a balanced, sustainable healthy diet”. If this wording seems floury to you, it’s because it is. A previous version of the report included a recommendation for people to switch to a plant-based diet, according to Fr. Reuters report. But this advice was watered in post-lobbying talks by the US, Brazil and other countries with a major meat industry. In summary, plant-based diets refer to one mention: footnote on page 43.

But you can’t talk about the impact of food on the climate, let alone meat. The production of food accounts for about 26 percent of all global greenhouse gas emissions, and much of that comes from livestock. The biggest emissions come from ruminants such as cattle and sheep, due to the way they belch methane when they digest food. Per gram of protein, beef is eight times more greenhouse gas than chicken 25 times more than in tofu. The impact on the land is also great. Nearly 80 percent of all farmland is used as pasture or for growing livestock crops, and expansion of pasture for beef yields 41 percent of annual tropical deforestation.

However, it turns out even a modest incarnation in our desire for beef can bring great benefits to the environment. Replacing only a fifth of the beef consumed with a mycoprotein, like Quorn, can dramatically slow the pace of future deforestation. A new study in the magazine Nature simulated what would happen if people replaced beef or other ruminant meat in their diet with mycoproteins – or continued our current trajectory. In a world where demand for beef is constantly growing, the rate of deforestation will more than double. But if people exchanged 20 percent of beef for mycoproteins, by 2050 the level of deforestation would be halved if beef consumption continued to grow as projected.

“Part of the solution to this problem may be existing biotechnology,” said Florian Humpeneder, a researcher at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany and lead author. Nature paper. Other scientific studies advocate a much greater reduction in meat consumption. EAT-Lancet The commission, for example, recommends that people stop eating than 98 grams of red meat (pork, beef or lamb) per week – just under a quarter of a pound. The average American eats almost seven times as much beef alone.

For Humpeneder, reducing beef consumption by 20 percent seemed a more realistic goal. “Achieving a 20 percent replacement rate by 2050 sounds like something achievable to me. Or at least not super-optimistic, ”he says. He also conducted two other scenarios in which mycoprotein replaced 50 and 80 percent of beef consumption by 2050. In these two scenarios, deforestation and associated emissions were even lower. Each of these shifts reduced the projected rate of deforestation by about half, but the relatively small replacement of 20 percent of beef with mycoprotein benefited the most.

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