Have you ever wondered what would happen if the whole world went Vegan or Vegetarian?
Eliminating meat from our diets would bring a bounty of benefits to both our own health and the planet’s – but it could also harm millions of people.
People become vegetarians for a variety of reasons. Some do it to alleviate animal suffering, others because they want to pursue a healthier lifestyle. Still others are fans of sustainability or wish to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
No matter how much their carnivorous friends might deny it, vegetarians have a point: cutting out meat delivers multiple benefits. And the more who make the switch, the more those perks would manifest on a global scale.
But if everyone became a committed vegetarian, there would be serious drawbacks for millions, if not billions, of people.
It’s a tale of two worlds, really,” says Andrew Jarvis of Colombia’s International Centre for Tropical Agriculture. “In developed countries, vegetarianism would bring all sorts of environmental and health benefits. But in developing countries there would be negative effects in terms of poverty.”
Food production accounts for one-quarter to one-third of all anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, and the brunt of responsibility for those numbers falls to the livestock industry. Despite this, how our dietary choices affect climate change is often underestimated.
In the US, for example, an average family of four emits more greenhouse gases because of the meat they eat than from driving two cars – but it is cars, not steaks, that regularly come up in discussions about global warming.
Most people don’t think of the consequences of food on climate change,” says Tim Benton, a food security expert at the University of Leeds. “But just eating a little less meat right now might make things a whole lot better for our children and grandchildren.”
Marco Springmann, a research fellow at the Oxford Martin School’s Future of Food programme, tried to quantify just how much better: he and his colleagues built computer models that predicted what would happen if everyone became vegetarian by 2050.
The results indicate that – largely thanks to the elimination of red meat – food-related emissions would drop by about 60%. If the world went vegan instead, emissions declines would be around 70%.
For the full story: – What would happen if the world suddenly went vegetarian
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What if the world went vegetarian…
What if the world went vegan?
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