A new study, endorsed by the UN, estimates that wealthy nations are able to cut their CO2 emissions by 61% and sequester 100 gigatons more if only people would change their eating habits just a bit.
The global food system is the second-biggest source of anthropogenic greenhouse gases (GHGs), accounting for up to a third of all emissions. Over 50% of that number comes from meat and dairy production, despite these sources providing a meager 20 percent of the world’s calories. Wealthy nations drive most of this demand.
“Our double dividend means if we change animal-based diets to plant-based diets, we can reduce GHG emissions (dividend one) from direct agricultural production,” explains lead author Dr. Zhongxiao Sun. “The saved agricultural land from diet change can be restored to potential natural vegetation for carbon sequestration (dividend two).” And what exactly is this "healthy diet"? In 2019, the EAT-Lancet Commission published its planetary health diet, which was created by 37 leading scientists from 16 countries. The goal was to outline a healthy diet, one that is good for humans as well as the environment. A peaceful diet that nourished the body and the living planet around us simultaneously. The study simulated what would happen in 54 high-income countries if they adopted the EAT-Lancet diet. These countries were selected because, per capita, their populations eat six times as much meat, and they have the most options and financial wherewithal to choose what they eat.
Some of the key features of the EAT-Lancet diet include eating no more than 98 grams (3.5oz) of red meat (pork, beef, or lamb), 203 grams (7.1oz) of poultry, and 196 grams (7pz) of fish per week. Now considering that a single McDonalds quarter pounder is 4oz of beef, limiting oneself to one burger a week may seem to be draconian. And it is when compared to today's retune of meat consumption three times a day. But nevertheless this is NOT A VEGAN DIET! The taste of meat so many adore can still be had, albeit at a much lower level.
In return for this sacrifice what do we get? A planet to live on, air to breathe and children that will see the day of light. Currently, up to 80 percent of farmland is used for grazing and growing animal feed—but that translates to a mere 20 percent of the world’s calories. Beef production is also the number-one driver of deforestation. Not only would people be healthier, live longer but grazing farmland would become forests for us to enthrall in (tree huggers beware).
Our planet is dying, thus we are dying. The world's top scientists, endorsed by the United Nations, has told us how to save ourselves. The study is not challengeable, so what do the enemies of humanity resort to: deny, deny and deny some more. Just four countries accounted for nearly half of the total CO2 savings from the 54 wealthy nations in the study; Germany (4.4 percent), Australia (6.5 percent), France (7.1 percent), and the US (a whopping 29.9 percent). That means if just these four countries adopted the diet ALL TOXIC GAS EMISSIONS WORDWIDE WOULD BE CUT BY 17%. And the people in these nations would be rewarded by living long enough to see their grandchildren's children grow up in a beautiful and healthy world.