Save Forests by Removing Just One Item From Your Diet

We are what we eat, and right now many of us need to change who we are. Changing one’s diet can be one of the biggest things one does for the environment since we must eat everyday. Researchers have yet again shown that just removing red meat from your diet can make a big difference for the environment.

If removing meat from your diet is too much of a challenge then just reduce your consumption of it. Fighting climate change requires big groups of people making tiny changes so even doing a little can add up to a lot.

The team used a mathematical model that considered increases in population growth, income and livestock demand between 2020 and 2050. Under a business-as-usual scenario, the global increase in beef consumption would require the expansion of pasture areas for grazing and of cropland for feed production, which would double the annual rate of deforestation globally. Methane emissions and agricultural water use would also increase.

Replacing 20% of the world’s per-capita beef consumption with mycoprotein by 2050 would reduce methane emissions by 11% and halve the annual deforestation and associated emissions, compared with the business-as-usual scenario (see ‘Meat substitution’). The mitigating effects on deforestation are so great because, under this scenario, global demand for beef does not increase, so there is no need to expand pasture areas or cropland for feeding cattle, Humpenöder says.

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