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Going vegan could stop deforestation and ensure enough food for 2050

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Humans are biting off more than we can chew.

Ecowatch reports that a study published in Nature Communications says switching to a vegan diet is the only way to guarantee our population will have enough food in 2050, and no fewer trees. Then, even if the more pessimistic predications for our dystopian future come true, people won’t be going hungry. With many staying firm in the idea a vegan future being impossible, studies like these only look to quantify the damage we will ultimately make.

The study is described as a thought experiment, and not a realistic set of projections. But the point remains that humanity must work out how to appropriate our limited available land if we plan on surviving on it. Currently, only a quarter of our ice-free land is untouched by crops, animal grazing, or buildings. In needing our land-based ecosystems for biodiversity, food, fuel, energy, air, and water, the study imagines a total end to deforestation. After all, a larger population plus less land is a bad equation.

The study then goes on to examine different combinations that would affect whether human demand could be met. Expansion of farmland, crop yields, and a variety of diets were considered. Of 500 unique scenarios, just over half (289) show promise of producing enough food while staying in the “zero-deforestation” parameters. But 100% of the predicted scenarios that excluded livestock would surely meet food demands. To put it simply, if everyone went vegan, we wouldn’t have to sacrifice another tree to ensure people are adequately fed.

The study says: “A vegan or vegetarian diet is associated with only half the cropland demand, grazing intensity and overall biomass harvest of comparable meat-based human diets.”

For everyone to remain eating meat and dairy, technology would have to do something to keep yields up in the same small space, which has it’s own set of problematic outcomes. Paired with climate patterns that suggest more extreme weather and lower yields, it’s unlikely humans wouldn’t try to take up more of the remaining space. In the end, the scientists and authors involved look to bring to mind the production of food in relationship to deforestation. And without the need to continually raise and use animals, we’d surely free up some space. That goes for same animals that are exploited for industries unrelated to our diets, truly. 

Don’t wait for 2050, go vegan today.

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