How the Vegan Lifestyle Will Save The Planet


L.G. Patterson, Associated Press

A few of the ingredients to planetary and dietary health.

Brendan Guillen, Reporter

The Lancet, a British medical journal, has claimed to have discovered a method to sustain the human population for 2050, which has been estimated to be 10 billion.

The findings concluded that a largely plant-based diet will do the trick. The investigating scientists recognized this  by observing food production side-effects such as greenhouse gases, water and crop use,  fertilizer usage and the decreased biodiversity should a region become farmland.

The scientists stated that the world’s consumption of meat and sugar should decrease by 50%. According to Jessica Franzo, one of the report’s authors and a professor of Food Policy and Ethics at John Hopkins University, ” We’ll be in dire straights if no action is taken.”

This study is different from others calling for the decreased consumption of meat and the increase of farm produce due to a detailed list of the necessary steps. These range from the already established method of relaying information to completely eliminating consumer choice, if necessary. To this end, the researchers broke down the necessary daily consumption of each of the food groups such as whole grains, vegetables, dairy and fats.

Chief science officer for the U.S. National Dairy Council Greg Miller countered with “You have a million people whose lives depend on dairy.” This was in reference to those who are employed by the dairy industry or make a living off of their land. In addition, he stated that rather than phasing the dairy system completely, subsidies could be put in place which would especially benefit the small-scale farmers.

Acknowledging the role of region and arable land, the researchers concluded that citizens of North American countries generally consume 6.5 times the optimal amount of red meat while in South Asia 1.5 times more starch-based vegetables are consumed than necessary. Alan Dangour, a professor in food and nutrition for global health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, commented that the factor of international cooperation “immediately makes implementation quite difficult.”

In the words of Frank Mitloehner, an animal scientist from the University of California, “What concerns me the most is that, while livestock has an impact, the report makes it sound as if it was the leading source of the impacts. By far the use of fossil fuels are the leading source of carbon emissions.” He is backed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which stated that agriculture consists of nine percent of the greenhouse gas emissions, with four percent of that coming from livestock. This is in reference to the efforts to not only sustain the human population, but maintain the planet’s ecosystems and biosphere.

Food production and consumption plays a direct role in reducing global warming, and its regulation would solve two problems at once. According to John Rockström, professor of Environmental Science at the Stockholm Resilience Center, a branch of Stockholm University, de-carbonizing energy sources through the reduced use of fossil fuels and a food transition is the best way to limit global warming.

While the debate on the research continues, other methods to provide for the increasing population are being explored.