According to new research, if 10% of animal meat intake were switched to plant meat, up to 38 million hectares of land could be freed up globally — an area even larger than the size of Germany. The study also found that reducing animal meat consumption would also significantly improve other environmental indicators, such as reducing water waste and reducing carbon emissions.
The study, released in late October, was carried out by Zurich-based alternative protein investor Blue Horizon Corporation and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), one of the Big Four accounting firms. The study explores the environmental footprint of different meats and the extent to which replacing animal products with plant-based foods can impact the planet. The study said: If the world replaced 10% of meat with plant-based meat by 2030, we would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 176 million tons, free up 38 million hectares of land, and reduce water use by 8.6 billion cubic meters.
To visualize this impact, the reduction in carbon emissions is equivalent to planting 2.7 billion trees, vacating a larger area of land than Germany, and saving water to supply everyone in New York State for 5 years. The figures were derived by measuring the environmental impacts of different production methods for chicken, eggs, pork and beef in different regions, and then comparing these impacts with plant-based meat alternatives.
On average, plant-based meat emits a third of the greenhouse gas emissions, half the land use, and far less water use than animal meat.
The study, conducted by Blue Horizon Corporation, also monetized the costs associated with these environmental hazards. On average, one kilogram of conventionally produced ground beef equates to an environmental cost of about $7.26. By comparison, its plant-based counterpart costs much less at $0.48 per kilo.
This study provides detailed information on the actual consumer prices of animal protein and its plant-based alternatives. This research provides important insights into how our decisions about protein consumption affect the environment.
While the price gap for other meats, such as chicken and pork, is smaller relative to plant-based meat, it’s still worth noting. For example, the environmental cost of conventional poultry is $1.66, while the environmental cost of plant-based chicken is $0.30; while pork is $0.72 and plant-based pork is $0.21.
Blue Horizon CEO Björn Witte said:
“This study provides detailed and robust data on the true price (cost) of animal protein and its plant-based alternatives… This study can also help people understand the impact of their protein intake decisions. How it impacts the environment. In addition, it also facilitates investors to better assess market opportunities in the Food 4.0 space.”
Similar studies have looked at the environmental impact of animal and plant products – for example, a Greenpeace report in September found that in Europe alone, the annual It emits more greenhouse gases than all the cars in the region combined.
Also, another study by the nonprofit EAT shows that increasing consumption of fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts, as well as reducing consumption of meat and dairy products, will be the most critical steps G20 members can take to reduce their carbon footprints . According to their analysis, if everyone in the G20 region liked plant-based products, up to 40% of the global carbon budget could be released.