Forests are an important harbor of biodiversity and carbon storage, so cutting into forests to create more cropland could be very harmful to the ecosystem. To see how we can feed a growing world without cutting into forests, Austrian researchers analyzed 500 different scenarios with varying levels of cropland expansion, dietary patterns, and crop yields. They found that “a large range of options exist to feed a no-deforestation world,” by 2050, but greatly varied based on what types of foods we’d choose to eat. For example, their models found that if the current North American diet (lots of meat and highly processed foods) continues to expand globally, only 15% of the scenarios involving this eating pattern are feasible. However, “all vegan scenarios and 94% of the vegetarian scenarios are feasible,” indicating the overall sustainability of plant based diets.
Nature Communication. 2016 Apr 19;7:11382. (Erb KH et al.)