AFP: Poor countries will need to increase carbon footprint to address hunger, study shows17 September 2019 | 04:18 | FOCUS News Agency
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University developed a model looking at how changes to dietary patterns across 140 countries would impact greenhouse gas emissions and freshwater use at the individual and country level, publishing their work in the journal Global Environmental Change.
They used the model to determine the per capita and countrywide climate and water footprints of nine "plant-forward" diets, which included no red meat, pescatarian, vegetarian without eliminating eggs and dairy, vegan, and others.
Keeve Nachman, the study's senior author, told AFP that much of the conversation about mitigating the effects of climate change "fails to recognize that many parts of the world are dealing with undernutrition."
"In order to get them to a place where they are not experiencing chronic undernutrition, they'll need to eat more, and accordingly, they'll need to increase their carbon footprint," he said.
"What that says to us is that in many high-income countries around the world, where we're consuming far more animal products than the global average, there's an increased urgency to start transitioning sooner rather than later towards some of these more plant-forward diets."
One encouraging finding, said the scientists, was that this goal does not necessarily require individuals to give up certain foods entirely.
Their modeling showed for example that a diet in which animal protein came mainly from low food chain animals, such as small fish and mollusks, had nearly as low of an environmental impact as a vegan diet.
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