The world is what you eat

May 24, 2020

When Greta Thunberg started protesting outside of the Swedish parliament building, she had one goal in mind: to reduce climate change worldwide.

She quickly became a symbol for people of all ages to rise up and push against tradition, the law, and common beliefs. She inspired millions, and, although not directly inspired by Thunberg, companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are working towards the same goal.

“Animal agriculture occupies nearly half of the world’s land. The industry is responsible for 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions and consumes 25% of the world’s freshwater. We make ‘meat’ using a small fraction of land, water, and energy so that we can eliminate animals from the food system, and consumers can keep eating what they love,” Appelgren said.

In an experiment conducted at the Oxford Martin School’s Future of Food program, researcher Marco Springmann modeled what the world would look like if everyone were to become vegetarian. He predicted that by 2050, food-related greenhouse gas emissions would decline by 60%, in addition to a global mortality reduction of up to 10% and a 68% increase in usable land (which is currently being utilized for livestock).

However, the probability of everyone in the world agreeing to go vegetarian for the environment is low.

Springmann went further to discuss more moderate ways to reduce climate change. He said that merely being more conscious about overconsumption and the consequences of food waste could also decrease food-related emissions. According to Springmann, less than 50% of the calories produced are used effectively.

Similarly, in another study published by Springer Link, it was found that if everyone in the U.K. followed the World Health Organization’s suggested dietary recommendations, their greenhouse gas emissions could drop by 17% (and even more when removing animal products). By simply being more conscious about food waste, people can actively slow down climate change and preserve biodiversity.

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