We have heard this many times from different people and different sources: our current global food systems and consumption patterns are unsustainable for human and planetary health. Sustainable food systems are a must.
Maybe you do not want to reduce your meat consumption. Eating meat makes you happy. It is associated with wealth. Remember that our human ancestors ate meat. This is an important element of a comprehensive diet. Meat cooking has a social component.
Still, the global food system contributes significantly to human greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Dietary changes are needed to achieve critical climate goals. Plant-based alternative foods play a major role in the transition to sustainable food systems.
Food consumption around the world is largely irresistible. Food production roughly covers the following:
- 21-37% of the world’s greenhouse gas production
- 70% of fresh water consumption
You can say that I understand. Industrial agriculture produces too much carbon. But isn’t there a few leverage points in the food system?
But how to increase agricultural productivity, especially arable land? Can’t agricultural companies target on-farm energy use as residual fuel for field operations? Wouldn’t changing the amount and composition of feed intake make a difference? Or is it impossible to establish rules for grazing different animals? Won’t high-tech animal waste management systems have a big impact?
An EPA report from May 2022 shows that agricultural emissions account for 11% of total US greenhouse gas emissions. The analysis confirms that a review of livestock practices could reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Various animal feeds can reduce methane (CH4) emissions from intestinal fermentation and increase productivity. Manure management systems can reduce CH4 emissions into the atmosphere – anaerobic miners installed to manage manure and capture and use CH4.
These are important to reduce carbon emissions, although they are mainly voluntary and non-federal compliance carbon compensation programs. However, these mitigating approaches do not begin to negate the impact of diet on agricultural sector emissions. Indeed, diets with high meat requirements, especially those focused on the meat and milk of relaxed animals, produce the highest ICG emissions.
The UK’s Climate Change Commission recommends a 20% reduction in meat and dairy production by 2030 and a 35% reduction by 2050.
What is required to reduce GHG emissions globally?
- Reduce emissions within food systems.
- Create clean energy sources for transport, construction, buildings and agriculture.
Clearly: We need to move to sustainable food systems
The UK’s National Diet and Nutrition Survey, which covers more than 15,000 people, found that the number of people eating plant-based alternative foods almost doubled between 2008 and 2019, from 6.7% to 13.1%. . Generation Y youth (11-23 years old) and millennials (24-39 years old) were age groups consuming plant-based alternative foods. Women were also 46% more likely to consume plant-based substitutes than men.
Pauline Scheelbeek, co-author of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: “Global transformation towards sustainable food systems is critical to achieving climate change mitigation goals around the world.” This is especially true for high- and middle-income people.
“Plant-based meat and dairy alternatives are increasingly being explored and developed as a strategy to reduce the consumption of foods of animal origin,” Scheelbeek said. “In many European countries, the desire to reduce meat consumption has increased rapidly over the past decade. Unfortunately, this does not always result in an actual dietary change. Plant-based alternatives can be a step for people who want to reduce their meat consumption, but have difficulty adapting it to their daily lives. “
Vegetable foods are products made from plant proteins such as soy, peas, nuts, oats and mycoproteins. They are similar to their analogues of animal origin: cuts of meat, dairy products and other dairy products.
C Sinks & Plant-Based Agriculture
“Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances of survival on earth as much as the evolution of the vegetarian diet.” – Albert Einstein
A carbon (C) sink is something that absorbs more carbon than the carbon it releases from the atmosphere. The ocean, land and forests are the largest C holes in the world.
Managed pastures are agricultural areas used primarily for the cultivation of grasses or grass forage crops used for livestock grazing. Evidence suggests that net global warming caused by managed meadows eliminates the cooling of clean climate from springs C in sparsely grazed and natural meadows. In the face of future climate change and growing demand for livestock products, sustainable management is essential to protect and increase soil carbon storage in pastures, such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions from managed pastures.
A study examining carbon emissions from a variety of diets, from meat-heavy foods to vegans in 2020, concluded that the lowest IUC emissions in 2050 refer to vegan and vegetarian diets. This is due to the large C nests, which create less demand for animal feed. The lowest emission scenarios occur with vegan diets. Research shows that replacing plant-based alternatives to diets with high meat consumption may be beneficial to the environment.
Suitable food group aggregates in terms of plant-based nutrition include beans and legumes, nuts and seeds, vegetables, meat, milk, other dairy products, plant-based meat alternatives, plant-based milk alternatives, and plant-based milk alternatives.
They have slowly but steadily increased their market share as many food products and restaurants have included plant-based foods in their existing choices.
Recent Thoughts on Sustainable Food Systems
On the consumer side, it is unlikely that the agricultural sector will be able to achieve global climate targets without significant dietary changes at the same time.
Lisa Moon, president and CEO of the Global Food Banking Network, is arguing Food tank COP26 could not adequately accept the link between food systems and climate change. The effects of global warming can destroy food systems and increase food security and economic instability. At the same time, food systems can enhance global warming by making extensive use of unsustainable farming and land management practices and food losses and wastes emitted by greenhouse gases.
The mission of the Global Food Banking Network (GFN) is to feed the world’s hungry by uniting and developing food banks. They are an international non-profit organization working for a hunger-free future by maintaining, merging and strengthening food banks in more than 40 countries. They believe that food banks are an integral and vital solution to overcome hunger and empower the world to change lives.
Several other organizations work at the crossroads of food and climate change. We can join them in advocacy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the agricultural industry.
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