A recent research has precisely calculated and compared the exact
environmental impacts of a nutritionally-sound and safe plant-based
diet with those of meat-based or meat-inclusive diets. The goal was
to see that if nutritional RDAs were satisfied, how much smaller of
an impact on the environment could the food systems produce if
livestock was to be removed from the equation.
In the States, but also in many other countries across the world, especially in the west, the amount of plant-based dietary products is too small. Especially after understanding that meals that contain no meat account for a minuscule percentage of the overall meals. Very few people choose to have solely plant-based meals.
Much of the arable land in America is used for corn and soy production. These crops are often either processed into compounds, used in packaged foods as a commodity to be exported (usually to China), or used as feed for animals, which is far from optimal to say the least.
based researchers found that replacing meat with plant alternatives
saves approximately 72 million acres of cropland, 6.6 billion pounds
of nitrogen fertilizer, and 308,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year
in their estimation. However, food-related water use was projected to
rise by 15% to keep up with these numbers.
calculated the plant-based diet to match the nutrient contents of
meat-inclusive diets, while also covering 43 other important
nutrients, like vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids. The diets
consisted mostly of asparagus, buckwheat, tofu, green pepper, squash
and similar versatile products. Diets were modeled to precisely match
the protein content of the meat they replaced: 13 grams of protein
per day for those who get their protein primarily from beef, or 30
grams of protein per day for a diet consisting of chicken and pork as
Gidon Eshel, the
author of the very paper which was published in Nature magazine in
early 2020, that brought this information to light, stated that “no
B-12 is supplied by the plant-based diets,” although he added that
“a simple B-12 supplement will do [for consumers], or a tablespoon
of brewer’s yeast.” This was in response to many concerns about
the lack of natural occurring B-12 in these plant-based sustenance
He added that his
team is planning to build on their success to further expand the
hypothesized diet to ensure the adequate inclusion of all 9 essential
amino acids. These are contained within the broad nutritional
designation of proteins, and represent 9 compounds humans must have
in order to survive, but that cannot be synthesized by our own
bodies, meaning that it is essential we acquire them through dietary
means. These are things like leucine, lysine, and tryptophan.
While it will be
a tremendously difficult task to convince Americans, or any other
nation in the world, to be honest, to stop eating meat, Dr. Williams
has an idea to create a more natural, robust, and carbon-friendly
food system through the practices of regenerative agriculture. In his
opinion, the farms of America are covered in crops almost year-round,
not only at harvest time. The bare brown earth which covers the
nation’s farmland during two thirds of the year is baked by the sun
during the day. This draws carbon out of the soil and into the
atmosphere much faster than if the soil was covered by plants.
asparagus, and green peppers of Dr. Eshel’s protein-modeled diets
would sit in rows alongside all manner of other plant species such as
those necessary for the sustained existence of pollinators, or other
cover crops used in medicines and foodstuffs alike. The diversity of
the crops increases the diversity of soil microbes which creates a
healthier, more nutritionally-dense soil, which according Dr. Allen
will not require synthetic fertilizer of any kind.
introducing cattle or other livestock onto the paddock in a
rotational grazing pattern will increase the soil diversity even
further, raising strong, healthy, and happy animals of all sorts, in
a humane way. In a recent radio appearance on the Sustainable Dish
Podcast, Dr. Allen stated that this method could finish 50 million
head of beef cattle, if done at a nationwide-scale, of course. This
could be enough to satisfy the beef needs of meat-eating Americans,
and create a more complete picture of a farmer’s paddock; a
regenerative partnership with nature, that equally goes both ways,
rather than the diminishing exploitative picture we see today.
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