World Could Thrive Without Deforestation by Going Vegan

Researchers sought to dispel the myth that deforestation is necessary to feed the growing global population, and veganism is the best option.

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A new study published by researchers at the Institute of Social Ecology has found that it is possible to feed the world without further deforestation. Published in Nature Communications, the study assesses the likelihood of 500 various options for feeding the global population in 2050 in a hypothetical world of zero-deforestation, depending on combination of key factors including agriculture technology, livestock systems, and human diet. Every combination in which the human population follows a plant-based diet would be feasible for a deforestation-free future, the study found. “According to our analysis, human nutritional behavior is the most important component,” study author Karlheinz Erb said. “If the world’s population followed a vegan diet, all combinations of parameters, even those with lowest yield levels and low cropland expansion, would be feasible.” In contrast, only 15 percent of the 500 options that include a global meat-heavy diet would work toward the goal of preservation of forests. The findings follow a similar highly publicized study that found more than eight million lives and $1 trillion in healthcare costs could be saved by the year 2050 if the world adopted a plant-based diet.