Have you ever wondered what would happen if the entire world took up vegetarianism?
There’s no denying the various benefits of quitting meat. Putting an end to animal suffering, having a healthier lifestyle, and even reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
However, it’s not all good news. The world’s population becoming vegetarian would also cause problems for millions of people.
Andrew Jarvis of Colombia’s International Centre for Tropical Agriculture said:
It’s a tale of two worlds, really. In developed countries, vegetarianism would bring all sorts of environmental and health benefits. But in developing countries there would be negative effects in terms of poverty.
A food security expert at the University of Leeds said that most people don’t consider the consequences of food on climate change, and that by eating just a little bit less may make things dramatically better for our children and grandchildren.
Marco Springmann, of Oxford Martin School’s Future of Food programme, and his colleagues built computer models that predicted what would happen if everyone was veggie by 2050. They found emissions would drop by about 60%. If everyone went vegan, that figure would increase to around 70%
When looking at what would be in line with avoiding dangerous levels of climate change, we found that you could only stabilise the ratio of food-related emissions to all emissions if everyone adopted a plant-based diet. That scenario is not very realistic – but it highlights the importance that food-related emissions will play in the future.
Having the whole globe on the veggie wagon would result in a great deal more of open land. 33 kilometres are currently being used for raising animals for the meat industry – around the size of Africa.
We’d also use a lot less water. 70% of the world’s water is used for agriculture and plenty more water is needed to produce meat than for growing plants.
For example: 15,000 litres of water is used to make one kilogram of beef. Only 300 litres is needed for the same amount of vegetables.
The question here is what would rather eat? Beef or a bunch of assorted vegetables? Would you rather chow down at a summer barbecue or the salad bar at Morrisons?