A new study has identified a diet to save the planet from climate change: vat-grown milk, culture-grown meat, and bugs. “The real take-home message is we have food pathways forward,” Rachel Mazac, the food systems researcher at the University of Michigan and one of the paper's authors, confirmed.
USA Today reported on the study. These pathways will be required, according to experts. It is projected that the world will have 9.7 billion hungry people by 2050, an increase of 1.9 billion from the current level–while at the same time nearly every country has agreed to the Paris (Climate) Agreement, a commitment to shift toward a carbon-neutral economy in order to combat climate change.
Food is a major component of the sustainability issue. Food systems and global agriculture were responsible for up to 31 percent of greenhouse-gas emissions in 2021, according to the United Nations' Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO). In the United States, agriculture alone was responsible for 11 percent of greenhouse-gas emissions.
The study showed that substituting 80 percent of animal foods with plant-based ones led to a 75-percent increase in the positive impact on climate change. The reduction in meat consumption alone resulted in an improvement of 60 percent in the impact on the environment.
“We need to make some pretty sweeping changes if we want to minimize our impacts,” Mazac stated.
The researchers behind the study, published in the science journal Nature Foods, called this type of diet “novel or future foods,” comprising old food items and new menus.
Insects, as the study stated, were eaten by humans from the time of John the Baptist, who referred to eating honey-infused locusts in the Bible. Seaweed and mushrooms are on the latest food list. Spirulina is also listed on the list of new items and is described as a “blue-green algae powder that's vitamin-rich and added to smoothies and other foods.”
Mazac stated that bugs might be more attractive when in powder form. She suggested a “sustainable” daily diet might include a protein shake for breakfast made of cow's milk fermented in cell culture and infused with insect powder for protein and blue-green algae to provide vitamins. A burger made in a vat could be served as lunch, and an evening burrito made of “scrambled cultured fungal protein” might be available for dinner.