Plant protein can help contribute to a healthier you and a healthier planet. Choosing sustainable food sources, like plant protein based foods, can help feed a growing world population more efficiently and reduce the drain on the planet’s resources. Even when an environmental crisis is looming, small changes, like adding more plant protein in your diet, can add up to make a big difference.
HOW EATING PLANTS CAN IMPROVE THE ENVIRONMENT
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over the next several decades, more people in developing countries will have access to animal protein due to improvements to urban infrastructure and economic prosperity. By 2030, the WHO predicts that the world will consume nearly twice the amount of meat per year than it did in the 1960s. Access to nutrient-rich foods is important for building health in developing countries, but the industrialized world is forecasted to consume nearly three times the amount of meat of developing countries. This increase in global demand, and what many consider overconsumption by the industrialized world, will have a long-term damaging impact on the environment.
Although the consumption of animal protein is part of a nutrient-rich diet for many, its production is inefficient and has unintended negative consequences on the environment. A growing population increases sustainability issues, hence the introduction to plant and insect proteins
- Global food demand will grow by 70% or more by 2050, along with a significant need for protein – an essential nutrient for human health.
- If global population reaches 9.1 billion by 2050, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations says that world food production will need to rise by 70%. Food production in the developing world will need to double while overcoming rising energy prices, growing depletion of underground aquifers, the continuing loss of farmland to urbanization, and increased drought and flooding resulting from climate change.
- Humans derive about 20% of their protein from animal-based products now, but this may need to drop to just 5% by 2050 to feed the extra 2 billion people expected to be alive.
Negative impact on our air and water
- There will be just enough water available if the proportion of animal-based foods is limited to 5% of total calories, and considerable regional water deficits can be met by a reliable system of food trade.
- The enormous volume of meat, pork and poultry farm waste can't be re-processed, and potentially end up into our waterways.
- Production of animal protein is responsible for 18% of all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, 9% of human-induced emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and 37% of emissions of methane (CH4).5
Plant protein is a far more sustainable solution
Why is plant protein a more sustainable solution for the growing protein demand worldwide? In addition to many plant sources being complete proteins, production of plant proteins are more efficient than animal proteins in terms of water and land use.
- On average, land requirements for plant protein production are 1/10th of the land requirements for animal protein, and producing 1kg of grain protein requires approximately 1% the amount of water necessary to produce 1kg of animal protein.
- Adopting a vegetarian diet is one option to increase the amount of water available to grow more food in an increasingly climate-erratic world, according to scientists. Animal protein-rich food consumes five to 10 times more water than a vegetarian diet.