As the Amazon Burns, Experts Urge Plant-Based Diets

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Wildfires continue to rage in the Amazon–Reuters reports that there have been 72,843 fires detected by Brazil’s space research center INPE so far this year, which is an 83% increase over the same period of 2018, and is the highest number since 2010. Ecovia Intelligence, a specialist research, consulting & training firm that focuses on global ethical product industries, is weighing in on changes consumers can make to help save the Amazon in the long-term.

“With much of the rainforest being cleared for agriculture, Ecovia Intelligence believes some of the solutions are with sustainable foods,” the firm shared in a press release.

Factors that have been linked to deforestation, according to Ecovia:
  • Cattle ranching. “It is estimated that up to 80% of forests are being cleared by cattle ranchers,” Ecovia wrote. “Brazil is already the world’s largest beef exporter, shipping 1.6 million tonnes per year. There are calls to stop beef imports from Brazil until there is a moratorium on deforestation. At the G7 Summit, there were threats of halting the EU-Mercosur trade agreement because of the burning Amazon.”
  • The rise in demand for soya beans. “Brazil is seeing a surge in exports to China, which has imposed tariffs on American agricultural products. The prolonged U.S.-China trade war is making Brazilian growers ramp up production. This year, Brazil has overtaken the U.S. to become the world’s largest producer. Although soya beans are no longer grown on deforested land, cattle ranchers in the cerrado region (south and east areas of the rainforest) are moving out to make way for soya bean cultivation.”
How consumers can make a difference:

“The starting point is consumer diets,” Ecovia contends. “Agriculture is the single biggest contributor to greenhouse gases, with livestock having the largest share.” Specific strategies that can help, according to Ecovia:

  • Reducing meat intake or switching to plant-based foods. “Apart from the direct impact on beef sales, it will also reduce the need for soya beans which are a major component of animal feed.”
  • Switching to sustainable meats. “A range of organic, free-range and certified humane meats are now available,” Ecovia reports. “Sustainability schemes like the Brazilian Roundtable on Sustainable Livestock also ensure that cattle are not grazed on deforested land. In Brazil, some retailers are using electronic tagging to ensure their beef is fully traceable and not produced by rogue ranchers.”

Related: 7 Highlights from the Sustainable Food Summit
Living A Plant-Based Life
Plant-Based Living: Delicious Tips for Success

For more proposed solutions from Ecovia, read the report Could Sustainable Foods Save the Amazon? And more on sustainability issues in the food industry, such as plant-based foods, sustainable soya schemes, reforestation and traditional agricultural methods, sustainable meat production, organic supply chains, and ethical consumerism will be featured in upcoming editions of the Sustainable Foods Summit. The Latin American edition in São Paulo in November 2019; the North American edition in San Francisco in January 2020; and the Asia-Pacific edition in Singapore in March 2020. Get details here.

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