Article Aug 11, 2019

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Switching meat for plant-based diets 'will help fight climate change'

A panel of United Nations (UN) experts have called for more people to ditch meat and adopt plant-based diets as a means of tackling climate change.

Previous studies have shown that abiding by a vegan or vegetarian-style diet, which revolves around only eating foods such as vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and fruits, can be beneficial for weight loss and general health.

Now, scientists working as part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have claimed in a new report that plant-based diets are one way consumers can help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and keep global warming below two degrees Celsius.

"Some dietary choices require more land and water, and cause more emissions of heat-trapping gases than others," said Debra Roberts, co-chair of IPCC Working Group II.

"Balanced diets featuring plant-based foods, such as coarse grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables, and animal-sourced food produced sustainably in low greenhouse gas emission systems, present major opportunities for adaptation to and limiting climate change."

Elsewhere in the report, the experts argued that a "coordinated action" is required in order to improve land, food security and nutrition, and help to end hunger.

They also noted that about one third of food produced is lost or wasted, and targeting this issue will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve food security.

"Food security will be increasingly affected by future climate change through yield declines - especially in the tropics - increased prices, reduced nutrient quality, and supply chain disruptions," added Priyadarshi Shukla, co-chair of IPCC Working Group III. "We will see different effects in different countries, but there will be more drastic impacts on low-income countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean."