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Two of the main products responsible for deforestation are beef and soy, the latter being used for animal feed. Almost 80% of all agricultural land is used as pasture or to grow crops for animal food, and the expansion of pasture for beef drives 41% of annual tropical deforestation.

Yet it turns out putting even a modest dent in our rapacious desire for beef could have big environmental benefits. Swapping just a fifth of our beef consumption for a mycoprotein like Quorn could dramatically slow the pace of future deforestation.

A new study in the journal Nature modeled what would happen if people swapped out beef or other ruminant meat in their diet for meat substitutes or continued on our current trajectory.

In a world where demand for beef kept going up, deforestation rates would more than double. But if people swapped 20 percent of their beef for mycoprotein, deforestation rates by 2050 would be half what they would be if beef consumption continued to rise as projected.

The study highlights how even a relatively small reduction in beef consumption can pay big environmental dividends.

Source: Wired UK