Saturday, December 24, 2016

New Project Aims to Lure People Away from Meat, to a Climate-Healthier Diet

Research shows rising meat consumption's dire impacts on the planet and a new initiative works to steer the world's diet toward plants.

Studies have shown that labeling food choices as "healthy," like salad bars, does not make them more attractive. (Credit: Getty Images) Click to Enlarge.
With the world's meat consumption on track to nearly double in the next three decades—a surge that could strain natural resources, increase greenhouse gas emissions and hamper the world's ability to feed a ballooning population—a group of researchers has launched a project to shift that trend, starting with language.

Recognizing that the words "healthy" or "vegetable" can scare off consumers, the group of marketing experts, behavioral economists and consumers researchers, led by the World Resources Institute (WRI), is working to develop alternative language with U.S. and European food companies to make their plant-based options more appealing.  Certain words, like "superfood," seem to do the trick.

The project, dubbed the Better Buying Lab, also aims to help guide the world's farmers in adapting to the diet shifts necessary to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius.

Global demand for beef alone is expected to grow by 95 percent between 2006 and 2050, largely driven by demand in China and India.  Because producing animal-based foods consumes more resources — about three quarters of all farmland, generating two-thirds of greenhouse gas emissions from food production— the booming demand for animal protein could have an outsized impact on the environment and climate.  Under the current trends, total emissions from agriculture could consume 70 percent of the global carbon budget by 2050.

Earlier this year, WRI released a study that found if people in developed countries cut their meat consumption to just over 2 ounces a day—roughly half of what they eat now—greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture could shrink by 10 percent and agricultural land use by 13 percent.  That's a mass of land twice the size of India.  The scenario could cut carbon dioxide emission from land-use changes by 168 billion tons by 2050.

Read more at New Project Aims to Lure People Away from Meat, to a Climate-Healthier Diet

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