Climate change has serious beef with this one simple trick to stop deforestation

Geneva, Switzerland - Taking fewer bites out of burgers would help take a big bite out of deforestation, new research shows.

Going easier on our bovine friends would be a big step towards stopping climate change.
Going easier on our bovine friends would be a big step towards stopping climate change.  © REUTERS

A study published in Nature found we can drop deforestation by 50% by 2050 if we go vegetarian one day a week.

The research team looked at plant-based diets and meat-alternatives and also made sure to calculate population growth, and the increase in land use that our current diet would need.

Meat, and beef in particular, are extremely carbon emissions-intensive, and we've seriously ramped up meat production, tripling the amount in the space of only 50 years, according to Our World In Data.

The authors say that continuing to add new pasture land to handle our future meat-eating habits would double the amount of deforestation each year. It would also raise emissions of the potent greenhouse gas methane, and spike water use.

But the fact that dropping just a small amount of meat each week could seriously help turn things around makes going veg now and again sound like a simple way for each of us to take climate action.

While not quite as sexy as some forms of climate action, it's still in line with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's newest playbook.

The study's lead author Florian Humpenöder said that this has to be part of the climate solution puzzle, and "should not be seen as a silver bullet."

Changing what we eat is one of the easiest ways to fight climate change, and a little effort can go a long way if we drop meat from a few meals each week.

Cover photo: REUTERS

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