Eat fungus, save forests

Changing a fifth of the meat individuals eat with fungi-based meat alternate options by 2050 may halve deforestation, a examine suggests.

Meat from “ruminants” comparable to cattle contributes to local weather change as a result of carbon-storing forests are lower down for grazing land or crops that make up animal feed, whereas the livestock additionally produce methane emissions.

In addition to dropping meat in favour of extra greens to chop the local weather impression of meals, alternate options embrace plant-based ones comparable to soybean burgers, cultured meat or animal cells grown in a petri dish, and protein from microbes comparable to fungi produced in a fermentation course of utilizing sugar.


Scientists say this microbial meat various – which individuals can already purchase within the outlets – is a protein-rich meals that may style and really feel like purple meat and be as nutritious.

Analysis by the Potsdam Institute for Local weather Influence Analysis (PIK) modelled the long run environmental results of substituting ruminant meat with microbial protein, considering meals demand and diets, inhabitants progress and land use.

With a rising inhabitants and elevated meat consumption, increasingly forests and different pure vegetation might be cleared for grazing and crop land.

However the projections, revealed within the journal Nature, present that substituting 20 % of ruminant meat consumption per individual with microbial protein by 2050 stops the rise in pasture areas wanted for livestock grazing.

And whereas demand for sugar cane as a feedstock for fermentation of the protein will increase, the necessity for animal feed crops is lowered.


The swap would lower annual deforestation and associated carbon dioxide emissions by 56% in contrast with business-as-usual developments, the examine estimates.

It will additionally decrease emissions of different greenhouse gases together with methane, and nitrous oxide from fertiliser or manure.

Florian Humpenoder, researcher at PIK and lead writer of the examine, stated: “The meals system is on the root of a 3rd of world greenhouse gasoline emissions, with ruminant meat manufacturing being the only largest supply.”

Switching out beef for microbial protein sooner or later may significantly cut back the greenhouse gasoline footprint of the meals system, he stated.

“The excellent news is that folks don’t have to be afraid they will eat solely greens sooner or later. They will proceed consuming burgers and the like, it’s simply that these burger patties can be produced differently.”


Additional will increase in microbial protein as a substitute for beef ship additional, however comparatively much less dramatic, cuts to deforestation and emissions.

There are additionally considerations about shifting “meat” manufacturing from livestock to heated fermentation tanks which require vitality for the method.

Co-author Alexander Popp, chief of the land use administration group at PIK, stated: “A big-scale transformation in the direction of biotech meals requires a large-scale decarbonisation of electrical energy era in order that the local weather safety potential might be totally developed.

“But if we do that correctly, microbial protein might help meat-lovers embrace the change. It could possibly actually make a distinction.”

This Writer

Emily Beament is the PA surroundings correspondent.



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