Replacing 50% of animal products with plant-based foods could prevent 1.6 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions

“Moving the American appetite from our burger-heavy diet to plant-based eating is a powerful and necessary part of curbing the climate crisis.”

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The University of Michigan and Tulane University found, in a recent study, linkages between diet and environmental impact have been repeatedly emphasized at the global and national levels, with an indication that shifts in diet, typically toward more plant-based foods, can lead to a significant reduction in environmental impact.

If the U.S. were to cut meat intake in half and instead use plant-based food, it would prevent more than 1.6 billion tons of climate pollution. 

According to Common Dreams, if beef consumption were reduced by 90% alongside the 50% reduction in other animal products, it would prevent more than 2 billion tons of greenhouse gas pollution. That’s roughly equivalent to taking nearly half the world’s cars off the roads for a year.

“Moving the American appetite from our burger-heavy diet to plant-based eating is a powerful and necessary part of curbing the climate crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the meat supply chain’s vulnerabilities, but our food system faces even greater long-term threats from climate change. We desperately need policymakers to support sustainable diets and a resilient food system,” says Stephanie Feldstein, population and sustainability director at the Center for Biological Diversity. 

The Center released a policy guide, alongside this new research, for decision-makers at the federal, state, and local levels in order to help implement dietary shifts.  

Appetite for Change: A Policy Guide to Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions of U.S. Diets by 2030, recommends U.S. policymakers at federal, state and municipal levels take immediate steps to accelerate the reduction of beef consumption by 90% and reduce all other animal products by 50% as part of their efforts to address climate change. This policy guide serves to support these steps and outline a number of programs that can be undertaken at all levels of government, with key recommendations for decision-makers at municipal and federal levels.

According to Common Dreams, some key actions include shifting procurement toward plant-based purchases, creating food-policy councils, ending subsidies and bailouts that encourage overproduction of animal products, and incorporating sustainability into federal nutrition recommendations. The Trump administration is currently revising the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

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