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Climate Change

Switching to mushroom-based meat alternatives could halve deforestation

German researchers say that if meat-eaters were to make the switch just 20 percent of the time it could have a massive impact on greenhouse gases.

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By Joe Morgan via SWNS

Switching from red meat to mushroom-based alternatives for one-in-five meals could slash deforestation by half in less than 30 years, according to a new study

Fungi-based meals could "massively benefit" animal welfare, save water, and reduce the pressure on land, say scientists.

German researchers say that if meat-eaters were to make the switch just 20 percent of the time it could have a massive impact on greenhouse gases.

Dr. Florian Humpenöder, researcher at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), 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.

“The substitution of ruminant meat with microbial protein in the future could considerably reduce the greenhouse gas footprint of the food system.

“The good news is that people do not need to be afraid they can eat only greens in the future.

"They can continue eating burgers and the like, it’s just that those burger patties will be produced in a different way.

“We found that if we substituted 20 percent of ruminant meat per capita by 2050, annual deforestation and CO2 emissions from land-use change would be halved compared to a business-as-usual scenario.

"The reduced numbers of cattle do not only reduce the pressure on land but also reduce methane emissions from the rumen of cattle and nitrous oxide emissions from fertilising feed or manure management.

“So replacing minced red meat with microbial protein would be a great start to reduce the detrimental impacts of present-day beef production.”

Dr. Alexander Popp, leader of the land use management group at PIL, said: "Alternatives to animal proteins, including substitutes for dairy products, can massively benefit animal welfare, save water and avert pressure from carbon-rich and biodiverse ecosystems.”

“A large-scale transformation towards biotech food requires a large-scale decarbonization of electricity generation so that the climate protection potential can be fully developed.

"Yet if we do this properly, microbial protein can help meat-lovers embrace the change. It can really make a difference.”

The study was published in the journal Nature.

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