You may already know this, but there’s no bigger impact we can make on the planet than the food we choose to put on our plate.
What’s more, even if we did nothing else to minimize the negative impact of climate change besides cutting our reliance on food from animals, we could see big changes in emissions and land use! Scientists did the math: If we end our reliance on animal ag, we'd gain ourselves 30 YEARS to solve the climate crisis.
These findings come from a recent research paper(opens in a new tab) written by Pat Brown (our founder and Chief Visionary Officer) and Michael Eisen (one of our advisors). The paper’s title gives away the solution: “Rapid global phaseout of animal agriculture has the potential to stabilize greenhouse gas levels for 30 years & offset 68% of CO2 emissions this century.”
Don’t have time to read a dense scientific paper? We got you. Here are the four most important takeaways worth knowing—and sharing with everyone you know (or don’t know):
A burger made from plants is like a time machine. A rapid global phaseout of animal agriculture has the potential to stabilize greenhouse gas levels for 30 years, essentially turning back the clock on climate change. That’s because the greenhouse gas footprint of animal ag rivals that of all travel COMBINED. (Roughly speaking, 1/2 of the effect comes from land use, 1/4 from methane emissions, and 1/4 from N2O emissions.) And while forests are the key to sucking carbon out of the air, they’re being cut down to make room for cows—30% of Earth's land is currently used for livestock production! That's a lot of native trees, habitats, and ecosystems being cut down to make way for cows. And it’s not just the ONGOING cutting down of trees (which is a problem of course), but also how many trees we have already cut down to make room for cows. About 1/3 of all human-created CO2 emissions come from historical land clearing which, unlike emissions from fossil fuels, can be reversed and pulled out of the atmosphere and back into trees just simply by letting native habitats regrow. Making the connection? Cancel the cows, bring back those plants, and you have a real climate solution.
We found the undo button. Meat made from plants is kind of like an undo button for climate change. Eliminating animal agriculture can have the same effect as offsetting 68% of human-related CO2 emissions. THAT IS HUGE. That also means this is a solvable problem; we already have the tools (and foods!) to make it happen—and the way forward is meatier than you’d expect.
The least you can do is a LOT. Food is a completely underestimated and covered-up tool to fight climate change. That’s because animal products, especially beef, emit the most GHGs of any food crop. A rapid global phaseout of animal agriculture has the potential to drop atmospheric methane & nitrous oxide levels AND slow carbon dioxide accumulation. And by the end of the century—even without reducing ANY OTHER emissions—we’d see the same result as if we’d cut 25 gigatons per year in human-related CO2 emissions.
The path to Paris is paved in plants. The math is there: if we bid animal meat adieu, we have a chance to save the planet. A rapid phaseout of animal agriculture could get us half of the emission reductions needed to meet Paris Agreement greenhouse gas targets. (The Paris Agreement's goal is to limit global warming to below 2°C, compared to pre-industrial levels.)
To dig deeper into the numbers, read the research paper(opens in a new tab).
We have nothing to lose and a world to save. In short: It’s not too late! Reducing or eliminating animal ag should be one of the main strategies for averting climate change. And it’s something we can all help with, together. For example, an Impossible™ Burger uses 96% less land, 89% less GHG gas emissions, and 87% less water than a cow burger. (Bonus: It’s packed with protein, too.) We’re also super meaty delicious, so you can make a difference without missing out.
We can get there, together. No stunts, just meat made from plants.