Balancing meat consumption with alternative sources of protein would be likely to lead to significant environmental benefits.
That’s the suggestion from researchers at the Oxford Martin School and the World Economic Forum, who claim this could not only drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions but also prevent millions of unnecessary deaths per year.
They say the nutritional needs of 10 billion people could be sustainably met through a combination of innovative protein sources, improved production systems and changed consumer behaviour.
The report estimate production of beef is responsible for around a quarter of all food-related greenhouse gas emissions, with an emissions intensity of 23.9 kilogrammes of carbon dioxide equivalent per 200 kilocalories.
It suggests beans, insects, wheat and nuts emit less than one kilogramme of greenhouse gas for the same nutritional value, with tofu, pork, algae and chicken producing between three and six kilogrammes.
Dominic Waughray, Managing Director of the World Economic Forum, said: “It will be impossible to sustainably satisfy the world’s future demand for meat.
“What this report shows is that it can be possible to produce enough nutrition for 10 billion people and improve people’s health without necessarily giving up meat – even red meat – altogether, through innovation in products, improvements in how we produce beef, pork and chicken and an effort on the part of the consumer to embrace a more diverse diet.”