Saving the planet – specifically, reducing its carbon footprint and curbing climate change – could be a bit easier than expected. It could be as easy as eating a healthy diet.
Food production absorbs approximately 19 to 29 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, most of which come from agriculture. Nearly a third of the land without ice is also used for food production. Food production can increase eutrophication, which is an excess of fertilizers and animal waste that causes excessive growth of algae and suffocates creatures that live in bodies of water.
That adds up to a serious effect on the environment, he said that we still need to eat.
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The researchers set out to discover whether following nationally recommended diets from 37 different countries would decrease environmental impact. These recommendations usually require eating less meat and more vegetables, fruits and nuts, although the changes vary from one country to another.
"At least in high-income countries, a healthier diet leads to a healthier environment," said Paul Behrens, environmental scientist at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands and lead author, Angeles Times . "It's beneficial for everyone."
Behrens and his colleagues used a huge database that represented the entire world economy, which allowed them to track the environmental costs of various types of food, from production to dinners. The environmental impact of the same foods may vary by country, which was also taken into account.
"Dietary recommendations can be an excellent way to talk about human health and the health of the environment," Behrens said at . Angeles Times . "The main point is that you can win both ways."
The reduction of meat was evident for almost all countries in order to follow the respective national recommendations. Animal products, including meat, fish and dairy products, account for 22 percent, 65 percent and 70 percent of emissions in the diets of middle-low, medium-high and high-income nations, respectively. The maintenance of protein requirements for individuals can be considered while decreasing greenhouse gas emissions in dietary recommendations by substituting meat-based proteins with plant-based proteins, the study said.
The nutritional component of animal product reduction was evaluated in a September study that found that the elimination of all animals from US agriculture reduced greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture by 28 percent and global reduction in emissions by 2.6 percent. The unintended consequence of that, however, was some nutritional deficiencies.
Individually, a completely meat-free diet can work. Expanding millions of people is a completely different task.
"Absolutely for individuals with a vegetarian, vegan and omnivorous diet, you can probably carefully develop a diet that meets your nutritional needs," Mary Beth Hall, co-author of the September study and dairy scientist at the Department of Agriculture of USA UU Newsweek in November. "The challenge we have – and the basis of our study – is when you try to turn that into an entire nation, you come up against some challenges based on what foods we can really grow."
A study published on Monday found that if Americans cut their meat consumption by half, the meat industry could Of course, this is based on what the authors identify as environmentally sustainable, which was defined as livestock raised in pastures (pastures and packed local hay) and by-products of the food industry.
According to the researchers & # 39; model, reducing the average amount of meat consumption from 460 grams to 200 grams per week would do the trick for sustainable meat production. In addition, abandoning less productive pastures could sustainably deliver 43 percent of current meat production.
The balance between a healthy diet and a healthy environment can work hand in hand, as suggested by the author of the study on dietary recommendations, Behrens. Finding that balance may well be necessary, since the United Nations predicts that the population will increase from 7.6 billion to 11.2 billion by the end of the century.
That means there will be around 3.6 billion more mouths to feed.