A Boston Consulting Group (BCG) report showed that investments in plant-based alternatives to meat lead to significantly greater reductions in climate-warming emissions than other environmental investments.
Increased investment in meat and dairy alternatives resulted in three times more greenhouse gas reductions compared to investments in green cement technology, seven times more than green buildings, and 11 times more than zero-emission cars.
“Widespread adoption of alternative proteins can play a critical role tackling climate change,” said Malte Clausen, a partner at BCG. “We call it the untapped climate opportunity – you’re getting more impact from your investment in alternative proteins than in any other sector of the economy.”
Meat and milk production takes up 83% of agricultural land and accounts for 60% of agricultural greenhouse gas emissions, but provides only 18% of calories and 37% of protein.
Shifting the human diet from meat to plants means less forest is destroyed to grow pastures and fodder, and fewer emissions of the greenhouse gas methane produced by cattle and sheep.
“Alternative proteins have received only a fraction of the investment deployed in other sectors,” the BCG report said.
Buildings have received 4.4 times more mitigation capital than food production, even though building emissions are 57% lower than those tied to food production.
Switching from conventional meat to alternative meat is also much less disruptive to consumers than flying less or remodeling their homes, the report said.