There’s still time to save the planet from the impending climate crisis, a new report claims, and the solution may be as simple as switching to a more plant-based diet. In a new report that aligns with the recent United Nations recommendations, Boston Consulting Group [BCG]  suggests that if Americans (and the populations of other developed countries) adopted a plant-based approach, it could vastly help curb climate change.

The idea is to substitute meat and dairy with plant-based alternatives that require a fraction of our resources to produce and emit fewer greenhouse gases and is a more sustainable approach to feeding the world's population. The message: Going plant-based and helping consumers do it too is an effective investment in protecting the planet.

Food for Thought: The Untapped Climate Opportunity in Alternative Proteins” details why plant-based ventures rank as the best green investments when considering the climate. The report claims that plant-based meat and dairy investments lead to three times more greenhouse gas reduction than green cement technology, seven times more than green buildings, and 11 times more than zero-emission cars.

Electric Cars Are Not the Only Answer to Climate Change

“There’s been a lot of investments into electric vehicles, wind turbines, and solar panels, which is all great and helpful to reduce emissions,” BCG partner Malte Clausen told The Guardian. “We have not seen comparable investment yet [in alternative proteins], even though it’s rising rapidly,” he added. “If you really care about impact as an investor, this is an area that you definitely need to understand.”

The report emphasizes that funding plant-based meat and dairy industries more effectively mitigate the consequence of the climate crisis in the coming years. Highlighting the dangers of animal agriculture, the BCG report claims that replacing this dangerous industry with more eco-friendly practices could significantly backpedal the emission levels. Eating beef one to two times a week for a year contributes six to 30 times more emissions than eating tofu instead, according to another report from the journal Science.

“It’s just mathematics,” Clausen said. “If instead of feeding all of these crops to animals, and then eating the animals, you just use the crops directly for human consumption, you need less crops overall and therefore alleviate the constraints on the system.”

Animal Agrilcutre’s Toll on the Environment

This report highlights just how urgently world leaders and investors need to pivot toward sustainable and plant-based industries. A growing portfolio of research indicates that plant-based eating could be the key to tackling the global emissions problem. This January, a study found that plant-based diets can slash greenhouse gases by up to 61 percent. The study focused on how animal agriculture requires an overwhelming amount of fuel, land, and other resources.

Currently, meat and dairy production uses 83 percent of total farmland, according to another article from The Guardian. This figure is staggering when compared to the 18 percent of calories and 37 percent of protein necessary for nutritional standards. By cutting the reliance on animal-based food products, the world can move away from the damages it causes. At this moment, meat production alone is responsible for 57 percent of food-related greenhouse gas emissions.

Eating Partially Plant-Based is a Good Start

This new report urges investors to care about the plant-based market, but consumers have already started shifting towards alternatives to meat and dairy products. Now, 55 percent of consumers consider sustainability when shopping at the grocery store, giving rise and credit to the climatarian. The Cambridge Dictionary defines a climatarian as “a person who chooses what to eat according to what is least harmful to the environment." While most climatarians are not fully plant-based, the slight contribution is crucial progress.

This March, German food tech company Greenforce released a study claiming that eating plant-based meals twice per week for a year is the equivalent of planting 14 billion trees. The data revealed how even marginal contributions to the plant-based market can help benefit the environment.

Suzy Amis Cameron – the founder of One Plant-Based Meal a Day – said that a single plant-based meal a day for a year saves the amount of carbon that it would take to drive from New York to Los Angeles. With the climate crisis at the world’s doorsteps, new research is showing how plant-based food systems can be more reliable, more efficient, and most importantly, better for sustaining the environment.

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