Swapping beef for beans could have a “huge impact” on reducing US greenhouse gas emissions and free up an area of cropland larger than France.
A team of scientists from four US universities found if the whole of the US made this dietary change, the country could achieve up to 75% of its climate change targets by 2020.
The researchers from Loma Linda University, Bard College, Harvard University and Oregon State University said the shift would free up 42% of agricultural land, a total of 692,918 square kilometres.
They suggest producing beef is 40-times more carbon intensive than growing legumes like beans and peas.
The research shows a greener diet could also improve health and save money – the daily protein taken from beef could be achieved with only half a can of baked beans.
Director of ProVeg UK, Jimmy Pierson, said: “This research has given us a quick and easy solution to climate change – the power is on our plates! It’s so empowering for individuals looking for an effective way to reduce their impact on the planet. It’s as simple as choosing beans over beef.
“It’s not only an environmental necessity, swapping beef for beans is also extremely beneficial to people’s health. Beans are a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals, packed full of protein, fibre and antioxidants. They are also the cheapest form of protein – what’s not to love?!”
Scientists aim to reduce the 90 million tonnes of methane cows produce by each year by developing a new type of grass.