London, May 5 (IANS) Consuming insects such as crickets and mealworms, instead of beef could help tackle climate change by reducing harmful emissions linked to livestock production, new research suggests.
The study, published in the journal Global Food Security, showed that replacing half of the meat eaten worldwide with crickets and mealworms would cut farmland use by a third, substantially reducing emissions of greenhouse gases.
“A mix of small changes in consumer behaviour, such as replacing beef with chicken, reducing food waste and potentially introducing insects more commonly into diets, would help achieve land savings and a more sustainable food system,” said lead author Peter Alexander from the University of Edinburgh in Britain.
Further, consuming insects and imitation meat — such as soybean-based foods like tofu — are the most sustainable as they require the least land and energy to produce. Beef is by far the least sustainable, Alexander said.
Lab-grown meat was also found to be no more sustainable than chicken or eggs, requiring an equivalent area of land but using more energy in production.
For the study, the team used data collected primarily by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation and compared the environmental impacts of conventional meat production with those of alternative sources of food.
In addition, halving global consumption of animal products by eating more insects or imitation meat would free up 1,680 million hectares of land, the researchers said.