According to the latest estimates, the average temperature is expected to increase by 1.3 C0 by 2050 and 1.2 – 3.7 C0 by 2100. In addition to the increase in temperature, drought also negatively affects agriculture. For example, in the drought, the plant cannot fully develop and ripens early, as a result the yield drops. Of course, the event does not end with this. Changing climate causes vital changes of diseases and harmful factors. It is known that pests have migrated 2,7 kilometers north each year since 1960. Disease factors and pests can extend their lifespan, even increase their reproductive rate, and create new genotypes. This will be a disaster for world agriculture. Because the new diseases and pest-resistant varieties in question have not been improved yet, and drugs to combat them have not yet been formulated!

On the other hand, by 2050, the amount of food we consume now, will have to be increased by 70%.
This increase is estimated to be around 80% for meat and 52% for grain. This means that today’s annual world meat production of 260 million tons will have to be increased to 455 million tons annually in the 2050s.

The negative impact of agriculture, especially livestock, on the environment is not to be underestimated. For example, 322 liters of water is consumed for one kilogram of vegetables, 962 liters of water for one kilogram of fruit, while 4325 liters for one kilo of chicken, 8763 liters for one kilo of mutton and 8763 liters for one kilo of beef. It should not be forgotten that one third of the grain produced in the world is used as animal feed. Another fact is that 80% of antibiotics used in the USA are used in animal husbandry.

We have to protect our land and water resources for sustainable agricultural production in the future. If we do not pay attention to the use of agricultural resources, we will face problems in terms of sustainable food production in the future. Due to antropogen environmental pollution, the scorecard of agriculture does not look very good. For example, 70% of world clean water consumption is used in food production.

With our todays agricultural production, we have to focus a little more on the “environment-food-health” triangle in the reality of millions of hungry, underfed, insufficient micronutrients and obese populations. Here we come across three objectives:
1) developing in agricultural production technology;
2) reduction in food losses and waste throughout the supply chain;
3) changing individuals’ food options and dietary patterns.

The issue of agricultural production providing maximum efficiency by minimizing the environment is encountered in many current publications .

Let’s try to examine the possible effects of individuals’ food options and dietary patterns on the protection of our land and water resources. It is a fact that eating habits play a major role in food consumption. The behavior of consumer groups such as vegan and vegetarian, especially in meat consumption, is known very well. Although meat stands out especially as a protein source, it is known that legume proteins from plant sources is almost equal to meat protein in terms of nutrition. In this case, let’s compare the resources required to produce one kilo of meat and one kilo of beans in the table below. It is immediately noticeable that the required production area, amount of water, fertilizer and chemical to be used, is almost ten times differing.

Land (m2) Water(m3) Fertilizer (gr) Chemical (gr)
Bean 3,8 2,5 39 2,2
Meat 52 20,2 360 17,2

When we convert the figures into protein, we see that 18 times more land, 10 times more water, 12 times more fertilizer and 10 times more chemicals are used to obtain one kg of meat protein.

The amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere for a kg production of some foods can be viewed on the chart. As can be seen from the graphic, when a kilo of beans is produced, one kg of CO2 is released into the atmosphere. This figure rises to two kg of CO2 for one kg of milk, to 5 kg of CO2 for one kg of chicken, to 10 kg of CO2 for one kg of cheese and to 27 kg of CO2 for one kg of beef

In general, it is known that those who follow a plant-based diet, namely vegetarians, are healthier. Their risk of getting many diseases is very low. Vegetarians are very unlikely to develop type 2 diabetes, obesity, coronary heart disease and other non-communicable diseases. A well-planned vegetarian diet is sufficient for body development and growth. Meatless diets are suitable not only for prevention, but also for the therapy of many diseases.

It is estimated that, the vegetarian lifestyle can reduce the greenhouse gas level by an average of 35%, food production areas by an average of 42% and agricultural water use by an average of 28%. This fact has already initiated some practices to shift to a meat-free diet in societies that are environmentally conscious. The meatless menu application launched in the canteens and restaurants of UK universities already has reached to 44 universities .

On the other hand, it is observed with pleasure that a plant-based meat market has been opened and it is estimated that an amount of 85 billion dollars will be reached by 2030s .

It seems that the human being can be very successful in reducing the negative effects of climate change with only changing his eating habits.

Nazimi Acıkgöz
Note: This paper is a summary of a Turkish blog:

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