Reduce global emissions by 31% with this simple swap

If the whole world could be persuaded to replace 50% of the meat and dairy products consumed with plant-based alternatives by 2050, there could be a 31% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions linked to agriculture and land use, according to new research, published in the scientific journal Nature Communications.

The research also points out that this swap could halve the degradation of forests and natural lands, providing many benefits to biodiversity as well as climate protection. In fact, the potential for reforestation on land released from farmed animal production could double the climate benefits. It underscores just how much dietary changes could decrease the detrimental effects of animal agriculture on the natural environment.

This was the first time that the environmental impacts and the impact on global food security of plant-based meat and vegan milk had been comprehensively assessed. The authors of the study developed scenarios of dietary changes based on plant-based recipes designed to be nutritionally equivalent to products based on beef, pork, chicken and milk.

They point out that as this change of diet happens, it’s important to consider the in position of smallholder farmers, who may need assistance during the transition from raising meat to raising crops.