Published in Nature journal, the research marks the first time researchers have assessed the potential impact of meat substitutes on the environment.
Florian Humpenöder, Researcher at PIK and Lead Author of the study, said: “The food system is at the root of a third of global greenhouse gas emissions, with ruminant meat production being the single largest source.
“That is because more and more forests that store a lot of carbon are cleared for cattle grazing or growing its feed and because of further greenhouse-gas emissions from animal agriculture.”
Mr Humpenöder added biotechnology producing “nutritious protein-rich biomass” with a meat-like texture could hold the key to deforestation.
Researchers had previously predicted that if 10% of the global animal market was replaced by plant-based food products, carbon dioxide emissions equivalent to 2.7 billion trees, covering an area of land larger than Germany, could be saved.