UG scientists: We must change our diets

According to scientists at the UG, we have to start eating a more plant-based diet if we want to have any chance of winning the fight against global warming.

A group of international scientists led by the UG published an article in Nature Food last week; they’d calculated that two thirds of all greenhouse gases were related to food. They studied the consumption-based emissions for 153 food products in 181 countries between 2000 and 2019. 

Globally, food-related emissions increased by 14 percent, which amounts to two gigatonnes of CO2. Approximately 95 percent of that increase is because people are consuming more animal products, such as beef and dairy. This is mainly happening in China and India, two countries that are developing rapidly.

Emissions continue to increase

However, there will be 9.1 billion mouths to feed by 2050, which means food production needs to be upped by 70 percent. Emissions will only continue to increase due to the growing number of people and their diets. 

According to lead author Yanxian Li with the department of Integrated Research on Energy, Environment and Society at the UG, changing people’s behaviour is particularly difficult. ‘We’d mainly benefit from conducive measures that encourage people to eat less red meat or buy products that are more environmentally friendly.’

Co-author Klaus Hubacek, professor of science, technology and society, agrees. ‘If people all over the world changed their diet, for instance by eating more plant-based forms of protein, this will not only have a positive effect on emissions, but also on other issues such as obesity and cardiovascular disease.’


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