Americans will need to cut their average consumption of beef by about 40% and Europeans by 22%, for the world to continue to feed the 10 billion people expected to live on this planet in 2050, according to a new report.
That means each person could have about a burger and a half each week.
This calculation comes from the World Resources Institute, a global research nonprofit that supports better use of natural resources to sustain a growing population. Its research looks at agriculture, the climate crisis, poverty and gender, among other topics.
Its final “Creating a Sustainable Food Future” report released Wednesday takes a closer look at the gaps in food production and global demand and makes several concrete recommendations on how to prevent a catastrophe.
Eating less beef is one such suggestion in the 568-page report.
Rising population, greater food demands
About 9.8 billion people will live on the planet by 2050, that’s up from 7 billion people in 2010. Demand for food is projected to outpace population growth, increasing by more than 50% as people’s incomes in the developing world are expected to increase, according to the report.
The demand for meat and dairy is expected to rise even faster, by nearly 70%. The global demand for ruminant meat, meaning beef, sheep and goat, is expected to be even higher, at 88%.
But to keep up with food demands overall, the report predicts farmers are going to have to produce 56% more crop calories than in 2010 – and that means that land nearly twice the size of India will be needed.
Closing these gaps is “harder than often recognized,” according to the report.
The authors suggest there are several ways to keep people from starving and to keep the climate crisis at bay, but the most impactful way to do this may be to cut the consumption of ruminant meat.