A new study from Chatham House says the best way to save the world’s wildlife and make us humans a little healthier too is to increase the number of plant-based eaters.
According to the research study, Food System Impacts On Biodiversity Loss
Biodiversity, crucial to human and planetary health, is declining faster than at any time in human history. Agriculture is driving this trend, making food system reform an urgent priority.
If that sounds alarming, then maybe it’s time we all take a look at our diets and see what we can do.
Even if you’re not following a vegan or vegetarian diet there are ways to improve our diet and health as well as help save the world’s wildlife. How we do that doesn’t have to be hard or make us feel like we’re deprived.
What is biodiversity?
Essentially it’s the amount of variety of life (plants, animals, and microorganisims) existing on earth in our deserts, rainforests, grasslands, tundra, coral reefs, and polar icecaps. It’s important because every species in an ecosystem has a vital role to play to help support a larger number of plant species which creates a greater variety of crops.
When we lose diversity of species it negatively impacts humans and our planet.
When there is a healthy ecosystem and rich biodiversity it does this:
- increases ecosystem productivity (the larger the number of species, the greater variety of crops)
- greater protection of freshwater resources
- promotes and protects soil formation
- helps break down pollutants
- helps climate stability
- more food security and resources from a variety of plant and animals from domesticated and wild sources
The less biodiversity the fewer food resources are available because plants and animals are more vulnerable to diseases and pests.
What’s driving the loss in biodiversity?
Sadly, on a global level, our food systems are a big culprit. The research paper found that, “Over the past 50 years, the biggest driver of habitat loss has been the conversion of natural ecosystems for crop production or pasture. The area of land occupied by agriculture has increased by around 5.5 times since 1600 and is still increasing.
Currently, cropping and animal husbandry occupy about 50 per cent of the world’s
There are 28,000 species at risk of extinction and as much as 86% could be destroyed by the agriculture industry.
More Plant-Based Eaters Can Help
“Eating healthily is about eating the right amount of the right foods. A healthy diet is rich in plants like fruit, vegetables, leafy greens and pulses, whole grains, and limited livestock produce and low in ultra processed fats, sugars and starches.” –Research Director, Tim Benton Emerging Risks; Director, Energy, Environment and Resources Programme.
Preserving more land for nature and finding ways to farm that also support biodiversity is critical. If this is not done within 10 years, a United Nations agency warns that mass extinction will happen. We need to protect approximately a third of the earth and cut pollution in half to stop what experts believe we are in the middle of – the sixth era of mass extinction and unlike other mass extinctions, this one is caused by humans.
Finding new ways to farm can help improve biodiversity.
“Many agro-ecological and regenerative farming systems – such as organic
farming – are inherently more diverse, relying on polycultures and rotations.
In general, the yield–biodiversity relationship means that such systems tend
to be lower-yielding than intensive farming,” the study noted.
But adopting these techniques requires strong motivation within our food system: less demand for food and a reduction in food waste as well as more people eating plant-based.
Ready to eat mostly plant-based? Take The Plant-Based Challenge!
Cow image by Christian B. from Pixabay
Vegetable image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay