A report by British think tank Chatham House has found that plant-based diets are the best way to protect biodiversity. Titled Food System Impacts on Biodiversity Loss, the report says agriculture is a threat to most species currently at risk of extinction.
Clearing land to create fields and pastures is the main cause of habitat loss worldwide. Currently, many crops are grown just to feed farmed animals.
But according to the report, a shift towards plant-based meat and dairy alternatives could provide the answer.
Farming crops rather than animals takes far fewer resources, saving land and water and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The report estimates that if everyone in the world switched to a plant-based diet, 75 percent of the world’s cropland could be freed up and used for other purposes.
Some of that land could be restored to nature, providing much-needed habitat for wildlife. The report emphasises that current farming practices, heavily reliant on chemicals and monocultures, are not sustainable.
It also notes that the drive for ever-cheaper food is a huge problem, causing farmers to turn to unsustainable practices due to market pressure.
Numerous recent studies have emphasised the importance of plant-based diets in tackling environmental issues. In November, a University of Oxford study said switching to a plant-based diet was the most important way of fighting climate change, while a report in October found that replacing 10 percent of the global animal market with plant-based products would save an area of land the size of Germany.
“Discussions on mitigating climate change typically focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels, for instance, from transportation or energy production,” Oxford researcher Dr. Michael Clark told Plant Based News in November. “However, our research emphasizes the importance of reducing emissions from the global food system. The most important is for individuals to shift towards predominantly plant-based diets.”