switch from meat to vegetarian feeds more people and produces less greenhouse gasses

The population continues to grow, but the land available for food doesn’t. Greenhouse gasses continue to drive global warming. If we are to fix these problems on time, we have to change the way we eat.

According to a report by the World Resources Institute, demand for food will increase by more than 50% by 2050. But agriculture already uses almost half of the planet’s vegetated land, and hundreds of millions of people are already hungry. And that’s not the only problem with the way we produce food: agriculture produces a full quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions. So, how do we produce more food while using less land and producing less greenhouse gasses?

A significant piece of the answer is changing the way we eat. According to the report, the raising of livestock—including cows, sheep and goats—uses an incredible two-thirds of the world’s agricultural land and generates half of agriculture’s contribution to greenhouse gasses. If we want more food and less climate change, we have to eat less meat.

The report concludes that, to make it work, the 20% of the world’s people who eat the most meat would have to reduce their meat consumption by 40%. Expressed more globally, worldwide, people would have to shift at least 30% of their consumption of cows, sheep and goats to plant based foods. That works out to a menu of 1.5 servings of foods from cows, sheep or goats per week. A plant based diet produces more food on less land with less greenhouse gasses. Every calorie of animal based food requires many times more the calories of plant based food to feed the animals, many times more land while producing many times more greenhouses gasses than plant based food. Plant based diets feed more people, while using less land and producing less greenhouse gasses.

Plant based foods are also superior to milk and other dairy products because land use and greenhouse gas emissions from dairy products equal or surpass those of pork and chicken.

This important study joins a long list of recent important studies that have sounded the alarm over the impact on the planet of eating meat and dairy and that have highlighted the need to switch to a more vegetarian diet.

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For much more on creating a diet that’s better for you and for the planet, see Linda's book, The All-New Vegetarian Passport: a comprehensive health book and cookbook all in one.


The Natural Path is intended for educational purposes only and is in no way intended for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. For health problems, consult a qualified health practitioner for a comprehensive program.

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