Eat more plants and less meat to save Earth
I'm the first to admit I love a good steak. Wagyu beef and slow cooked lamb are delicious. But to save the planet we all need to eat more plants and less meat. The current global food system is wreaking havoc on the environment and our futures. The statistics are staggering: food production is responsible for about a third of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), nearly three-quarters of freshwater use and pollution. But it doesn't have to be this way.
A scientific study published in Nature shines a strong light on the environmental impacts of different diets. The scientists from Oxford and Griffith Universities examined actual food consumption of 55,000 individuals and its connection to the environmental damage caused by various foods from 38,000 farms across 119 countries.
The key finding is compelling: all environmental indicators, including greenhouse gas emissions, land use, water use, nutrient runoff, and biodiversity loss, increase with the consumption of animal-based foods. Compared to people who consumed more than 100 grams of meat per day, vegans exhibited only a quarter of the GHG emissions, land use, and eutrophication, a third of the biodiversity loss, and just under half of the water use. There was also a clear gradient from vegans to vegetarians, and low meat-eaters, with each group exhibiting a proportionally higher environmental impact.
The study's implications underscore the strong relationship between dietary choices and environmental impacts. They show that shifting away from meat and dairy can make a substantial contribution to reducing environmental impacts. It doesn't have to be absolute. We can still enjoy a steak every now and again. But for the well-being of our planet and future generations we need to eat less meat and more plants.