A new study published in Environmental Research Letters paints a grim picture of the future should meat eaters not cut their consumption by at least 50% by 2050.
According to Eric Davidson, director of the Woods Hole Research Center in Massachusetts, the developed world has to cut fertilizer use by 50% while also finding ways to convince consumers eat less meat.
Nitrous oxide released by fertilizer and animal manure coupled with emissions from food production are perhaps the biggest culprits in this equation, but with the global population expected to hit 9 billion by 2050, the average developed world meat eater is going to have to change his habits.
Davidson offers some solutions to this problem in addition to drastically cutting back on meat consumption.
Research into meat substitutes is an important aspect to a future with less meat (in fact, a meatless chicken substitute is just about ready to make its debut on the market). Another aid would be growing winter ground cover crops to help absorb the nitrogen in the soil, thus preventing its release into the atmosphere.
Davidson stresses the solution isn’t for everyone to become vegetarian or vegan. He suggests cutting back on meat portion sizes and frequency would be an enormous help. Also, less meat and more vegetables in your diet is one way to a healthier lifestyle, anyway.