Our knowledge of the world’s climate change is driving a massive shift in the way we live now, and how we will need to live in the future. With this need to change and reduce the emission of atmosphere damaging greenhouse gasses, will the way we eat be changed?
We’ve all heard this before and although some of us to choose to bury our heads in the sand, the reality doesn’t change or us or the animals we exploit, therefore eliminating the practise of animal agriculture is needed to tackle climate change. We grow an abundance of crops, yet we funnel it all in order to feed animals instead, destroying rain forests to make room for cattle. To say it is an inefficient way to produce food will be a major understatement let alone morally problematic.
It is estimated that by 2050, most of the protein we consume will come from either plant-based sources or lab-cultivated meats. Companies such as Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are already popularising plant-based meat alternatives around the world. The quality of these products is currently hit and miss, but competition within this sector will spark huge improvements in the years ahead.
The Situation Now
With all industries needing to curb their greenhouse gas emissions, the food and agriculture industries will need to address each sector of the process and reduce emissions from existing processes or find new emission-free ways to achieve their needs. The food and agriculture industry is a major producer of both CO2 and Methane. Although naturally present in our atmosphere, the level of these gasses is much higher now than it historically has ever been. The levels started rapidly increasing after the industrial revolution and have continued to increase in volume year on year.
These gasses are damaging our atmosphere and lead to global warming by absorbing the heat from the sun and insulating the earth so it can no longer lose this excess heat. High levels of CO2 are changing our ecosystem, with both our atmosphere and our oceans containing greater amounts of CO2 than ever before. This has led to oceans becoming more acidic. Changes in climate and global tidal flows are all leading to a changing environment.
There Are More of Us
The global population has been rising strongly since the middle of the last century with more people than ever before being able to fly around the world. With the world population now standing at 7.8 billion people there are over 3 times the number of people globally than there were in 1950.
So faced with a changing climate, a need to reduce emissions and 3 times the population our parents grew up with, we are going to need to change and adapt. Whether climate change dictates or determines how we eat in the future is largely down to us. There will have to be change, but with research and development into new technologies throughout the agriculture and food industries, we as a population have many new, ecologically sound food options becoming available to us. Partly this change will be driven by legislation, but with food, it is always going to be a consumer-led industry, with a requirement for food that tastes good, feels palatable, and looks appealing.
Some of this change may be seen already in the vast range of plant-based foods that have become available recently. Many of these foods are less damaging in their production to our environment. In the future, we may make greater use of alternative foods, such as microorganisms that can be grown efficiently.
These new foods may require getting used to or modifying into formats we are accustomed to. Even 3D printed to give the qualities of taste and texture we like in our diets. We will need to look harder at the total emissions over the production of our foods and be efficient with resources if we are to ensure changes in food production lead to healthier tasty foods, we can all enjoy.