Global Vegan Diet Could Buy Us 30 Years by Halting Emissions Increases

Animal agriculture emits the strong pollutants methane and nitrous oxide, which are both major contributors to the planet’s pollution crisis. However, current research claims that switching to a plant-based diet and eliminating animal farms might drastically reduce their quantities in the atmosphere “within decades.” The peer-reviewed article, which was published in the journal PLoS Climate, used computer simulations and modeling to estimate the consequence of a universal vegan diet combined with the elimination of animal farming practices around the world. 

The overall effect may stabilize greenhouse gases for 30 years and offset 68 percent of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions throughout the century, according to their findings. Patrick Brown, a professor emeritus in the department of biochemistry at Stanford University and the founder and CEO of Impossible Foods, and Michael Eisen, a professor of genetics and development at UC Berkeley, co-authored the study (both of whom, it’s worth noting, stand to benefit greatly from the growing use of alternatives to animals in food production).

It conducted climate models using data from 2019 and looked at four dietary scenarios: plant products replacing just beef immediately or over a 15-year transition period, and converting to exclusively plant-based diets immediately or over 15 years. The models took into account concerns like livestock-related emissions and biomass recovery from reclaimed farmland, and projected how these changes will affect atmospheric greenhouse gas levels and temperatures over the next century.

Brown said in a statement, “The overall effect is both breathtakingly huge and – equally important – quick, with much of the benefit realized by 2050.” “If animal agriculture were phased out over 15 years while all other greenhouse-gas emissions remained unchanged, the phase-out would result in a 30-year pause in net greenhouse-gas emissions and offset about 70% of the warming effect of those emissions through the end of the century.” The changes are predicted to result from existing greenhouse gases decomposing and declining when livestock methane and nitrous oxide production ends, as well as land-use changes. 

Previous study backs up the broad ideas, but the specifics of how a 15-year plan could be implemented are uncertain, and whether it is a feasible and feasible switch in different parts of the world has yet to be determined. The researchers, on the other hand, believe that the findings lead to a change toward plant-based diets as a way to purchase more time in the climate crisis. Brown said, “Reducing or eliminating animal agriculture should be at the top of the list of possible climate remedies.” “I’m hoping that others, such as entrepreneurs, scientists, and global policymakers, would see this as our best and most immediate opportunity to reverse climate change’s course and seize it.”