In April, the The intergovernmental panel on climate change has dropped a huge report on how people can mitigate the worst effects of climate change. The full report is about 3,000 pages long, but the bit you really need to know comes in at 50 pages and lists all the ways we can reduce emissions right now.
Switching to wind and solar energy are listed as the two most-affected changes. But there's a weird thing going on down the road: “Transfer to a balanced, sustainable healthy diet.” If that phrase makes you feel uncomfortable, it's because of it. An earlier version of the report included a recommendation that people switch to a plant-based diet, according to a Reuters report. But after lobbying in other countries, including the United States, Brazil and the large meat industry, the suggestion fell through. In Executive Summary, plant-based foods are referred to as a single unit: a footnote on page 43.
But you can't talk about the climate effects of food without talking about meat. About 26 percent of all global greenhouse gas emissions are responsible for food production, and the bulk of it comes from livestock. Most emissions come from romantics such as cattle and sheep because they cover methane when digesting food. Per gram of protein, beef chicken is eight times more greenhouse gas emissions and 25 times more than tofu. Its impact on land is also extensive. About 80 percent of all agricultural land is used as pasture, or grazing for animal feed and expansion of pasture for beef drives up to 41 percent of the annual tropical deforestation.
Yet it turns out that even placing a decent hole in our lustful craving for beef can be a big environmental benefit. Switching to just one-fifth of our beef consumption for mycoproteins like Quorn could dramatically reduce the rate of future deforestation. A new study in the journal Nature What would happen if people switched to beef or other ruminant meat from their diet list for micoproteins — or we continue on our current path. In a world where demand for beef continues to grow, deforestation will more than double. But if people swap 20 percent of their beef for mycoproteins, the rate of deforestation will halve by 2050 if beef consumption continues to grow at an estimated rate.
“Existing biotechnology may be part of the solution,” said Florian Hampenoder, a researcher at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany and lead author. Nature The paper and other scientific studies suggest a much larger reduction in meat consumption. EAT-The Lancet The commission, for example, recommends that people not eat more than 98 grams of red meat (pork, beef or mutton) per week – a little less than a quarter of a pound. The average American eats about seven times as much beef alone.
For Hampenwood, a 20 percent reduction in beef consumption seemed a more realistic goal. “Reaching a 20 per cent replacement share by 2050 seems a bit achievable to me. Or at least not overly optimistic, “he said.” He managed two more situations where mycoproteins replaced 50 and 80 percent of beef by 2050. In both cases, deforestation and associated emissions were even lower. Halved the rate of dehydration, but the biggest gain was from a relatively small substitution of 20 percent beef with mycoprotein.