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Eating Beans Instead of Beef Could Help Reduce Greenhouse Gases

May 23, 2017 11:37 AM EDT
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A new study led by the Loma Linda University revealed that Americans could help reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions by simply changing some of their eating habits.

The study, published in the journal Climatic Change, showed that United States can easily achieve 50 to 75 percent of its greenhouse gases reduction targets by 2020, if Americans give up on eating beef and start consuming beans.

"Given the scale of greenhouse gas reductions needed to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, are we prepared to eat beef analogs that look and taste like beef, but have a much lower climate impact?" said Helen Harwatt, PhD, a researcher at Loma Linda University and lead investigator of the study, in a press release. "It looks like we'll need to do this. The scale of the reductions in greenhouse gas emissions needed doesn't allow us the luxury of 'business as usual' eating patterns."

The researchers noted that beef cattle are considered to be one of the most greenhouse gas-intensive foods to produce. On the other hand, the production of beans and other legumes only result to one-fortieth the amount of greenhouse gas produced in beef. Interestingly, the researchers claim that eating beans instead of beef could help the country achieve more than half of its greenhouse gas reduction goals, even without imposing any new standards in manufacturing and automobiles.

Aside from cutting down greenhouse gas emissions, substituting beef with legumes could free up 42 percent of U.S. cropland currently under cultivation. This is equivalent to more than 400 million square acres, or approximately 1.6 times the size of California.

Under the Obama administration, U.S. agreed to cut down its greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent below 2005 levels by the year 2020. In order to achieve that goal, the greenhouse gas level need to remain below 5344 mmtCO2e by 2020. This is 7 percent lesser than the greenhouse gas emission of the country last 2013.

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