Is Investing in Plant-Based Meat the Most Efficient Way to Address Biodiversity Loss?
Biodiversity is in alarming decline and it is urgent to identify the main causes of this disaster for the planet, but also for the economy and all the activities based on its ecosystem services. In this paper we identify habitat loss as the main cause of biodiversity loss, being among others responsible for 80% of global forest degradation. We establish the correlation between the loss of biodiversity habitat and the most space-consuming human activity, animal agriculture. The livestock industry alone requires 33% of all land on the planet for both livestock production and its feed. The expansion of animal agriculture in response to global over-consumption is responsible for 70% of the degradation and destruction of the world's forests, and is therefore the main factor in the loss of associated biodiversity. At a time when it is urgent to reconsider our model of meat consumption with regard to biodiversity conservation, we present ways to address the excessive consumption of meat, the main threat to biodiversity, by exploring the opportunities presented by the consumption of alternative meats. Alternative meats represent by far the most effective and sustainable way to invest in biodiversity conservation by addressing the problem of biodiversity loss at its source. Developing alternative meats would enable the re-conversion of livestock industry’ land to biodiversity habitat, reduce to almost null greenhouse gas emissions from the sector, and be significantly cheaper than investing $722 billion per year in biodiversity conservation. It is becoming essential for public and private actors to see the investment and development opportunities in this area, taking into account the positive impact both economically and ecologically.