Consuming a plan-based diet is important in order to combat global warming and offset greenhouse gas emissions. This means eating less red meat and, instead, consuming more fruits and vegetables. This is the warning from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the UN scientific committee, which released the report Climate Change and Land in August 2019.
EATING LESS MEAT IS GOOD FOR THE CLIMATE AND OUR HEALTH
Experts suggest a vegetarian or vegan diet not only to save our planet, but also to protect our health and wellbeing. The current global food system is no longer sustainable from an environmental point of view, given that the intensive exploitation of arable land is responsible for 30% of global emissions. In fact, the report highlights that 50% of total methane emissions, one of the most harmful greenhouse gases, comes from pastures for cattle breeding and rice fields. Hence the advice to reduce red meat consumption.
In order to reduce greenhouse gases, eating habits around the world have to become healthier and we need to move towards more sustainable diet, including whole grains, legumes, fruit, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. The disparity in obesity and malnutrition rates between industrialized and poor countries also needs to be taken into account: 2.5 out of 10 people are obese (about 2 billion worldwide) and 1 in 10 are malnourished (more than 820 million people worldwide), respectively. Adopting a plant-based diet would thus help smooth out these differences, as well as reduce the intensive exploitation of arable land.
GLOBAL CHANGES CAN SAVE THE EARTH
The exploitation of arable land (reaching close to 72% of total land surface) is implemented to supply food to the ever-increasing world population, but it also causes an excessive rise in temperatures, and can lead to a reduction in arable land at the same time. In fact, in the last century, the intensive exploitation of land, which has quadrupled the world population from 1.9 to 7.7 billion, has also contributed to erosion, soil impoverishment, and even deforestation. These are risks we can no longer take, since at this rate we could quickly reach desertification. It is therefore urgent to take a turnaround in food production and consumption, to “free” millions of hectares of land, and to reduce CO2 emissions by up to 6 billion tons every year.
The entire supply chain, from food production to consumption, generates about 25-30% of all human greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, it is vital to change our eating habits. In addition, the emission of greenhouse gases is leading to heat waves that have led to a rise in temperatures of 1.2 ° C compared to the levels recorded in the pre-industrial age. Experts have warned that exceeding 1.5 ° C would lead to even more serious damages in the climate than the current ones we have already seen.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change IPCC – “Climate Change and Land – An IPCC Special Report on Climate Change, Desertification, Land Degradation, Sustainable Land Management, Food Security, and Greenhouse Gas Fluxes in Terrestrial Ecosystems”