This Independence Day, Think About a Menu Change
Millions of American families are preparing to celebrate the July 4th holiday by planning their party menus. This year, they might want to think about alternatives to the traditional burgers.
Why? The world is on course to have nearly 10 billion people by 2050. More people and better diets in poor countries means the world will need 70 percent more food. More land in agriculture will mean more planet-heating greenhouse gas emissions.
One way to sustainably feed a growing population is by shifting diets away from resource-intensive, meat-heavy menus. As Americans head to the grill this Independence Day, they can help by swapping their burgers and hot dogs for grilled vegetables or chicken, which have much lower emissions profiles.
In a new podcast, I discuss these choices with WRI’s Janet Ranganathan and Richard Waite. They are two of the authors of a new paper, Shifting Diets for a Sustainable Food Future. The paper shows that eating less meat, particularly beef, and moving toward diets with a greater share of plant-based foods reduces pressure on forests and land, lowers greenhouse gas emissions and sets us up for a more sustainable future.
The paper also tackles the crucial question of how to shift people's diets at scale, an issue we take up in the second half of the podcast.