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UK scientists say eating less meat can save planet

Press Trust of India  |  London 

Cutting down consumption and adopting a more "flexitarian" diet that includes more could help combat some of the world's biggest problems including emission of green house gases, according to a study by the UK scientists.

Titled "Options for keeping the system within environmental limits", the study says that cutting down on red is one of the key steps towards a sustainable future for all in 2050 and that waste will need to be halved and farming practices will also have to improve.

A flexitarian diet means the average world citizen needs to eat 75 per cent less beef, 90 per cent less pork and half the number of eggs, while tripling consumption of beans and pulses and quadrupling nuts and seeds.

This would halve emissions from livestock and better management of manure would enable further cuts, according to the study published in the journal 'Nature' on Wednesday.

"We can eat a range of healthy but what they all have in common, according to the latest scientific evidence, is that they are all relatively plant based," said Dr from the

The study notes that if the world moved to this type of flexitarian diet, emissions from agriculture would be reduced by more than half.

According to the authors, the system has a number of significant environmental impacts including being a of climate change, depleting freshwater and pollution through excessive use of nitrogen and phosphorous.

The study said that people can move from a diet that has small amount of to a vegetarian or vegan diet.

"You can go from a diet that has small amounts of animal products, some might call it a based diet, we call it a flexitarian diet, over to a pescatarian, vegetarian or vegan diet," Springmann said.

"We tried to stay with the most conservative one of these, which in our view is the flexitarian one, but even this has only one serving of red per week," he said.

The research says that farming practices need to change significantly. This involves boosting yields from existing cropland, improving water management and restricting and recycling fertiliser use.

"Feeding a world population of 10 billion is possible, but only if we change the way we eat and the way we produce food, said Prof at the for Climate Impact Research in Germany, who was part of the research team.

"Greening the or eating up our planet: this is what is on the menu today," he said.

Their research is believed to be the most thorough to date as it combined data from every country to assess the impact of on the global

It then looked at what could be done to stop the looming and tackle the earth's problems such as water scarcity, climate change and pollution.

The new study follows the publication of a landmark UN report earlier this week. In the report, world's leading scientists called for eating less meat as they warned that there are just about 12 years in which to keep global warming under 1.5C, beyond which even half a degree will significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods and extreme heat.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, October 11 2018. 20:40 IST