Giving Compass' Take:

• Researchers indicate that reducing animal-based foods in our diets and switching to plant-based alternatives can help significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 in the United States. 

• There is a lot of potential in curbing diet-related greenhouse gas emissions but will require many individuals to make significant lifestyle changes. How viable are these alternatives for the U.S.? 

• Learn more about plant-based diets.  

Researchers found that replacing half of all animal-based foods (red meat, poultry, fish/seafood, eggs, dairy, and animal-based fats) with plant-based alternatives would reduce US diet-related emissions by 35%.

Based on US Census Bureau population projections, that would amount to a savings of 224 million metric tons per year in 2030.

A reduction of 224 million metric tons is equivalent to the annual emissions of 47.5 million passenger vehicles. It also represents 24% of the reduction needed for the United States to meet targets under the Paris Climate Agreement, according to the new study.

The target of a 50% reduction in animal-based foods assumes that the dietary shift would occur gradually between now and 2030, resulting in an estimated cumulative emissions reduction of 1.6 billion metric tons.

And if, in addition to cutting animal-based foods by half, US consumers also reduced beef consumption by 90%, the emissions savings would be even greater, according to the study. Dietary emissions would be cut by 51%, resulting in a cumulative reduction of 2.4 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

Diet-related greenhouse gas emissions include carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, and are expressed in the study as carbon dioxide equivalents.

“This research shows that replacing only half of our animal-based food consumption with plant-based alternatives could account for nearly a quarter of the reductions necessary for the US to meet a Paris Agreement target,” Heller says.

Read the full article about reducing diet-related greenhouse gas emissions by Jim Erickson at Futurity.