Why Food Matters in Taking Climate Action

  • Career Insights
  • By Sarah Meadows
  • Published on March 6

Food production is bad for the planet. Especially animal agriculture. 

Nearly one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions can be attributed to the way we produce, process, and package food, according to the United Nations. Cattle farms alone add over 231 billion pounds of methane to the atmosphere each year—which is equivalent to nearly 400,000 times the amount of CO2 Taylor Swift’s private jet emitted in 2022. Switching to a plant-based diet can be hard, but better substitutes, like high-quality dairy and meat alternatives, can make it easier. For this reason, investing in alt protein—meat, seafood, and dairy made from plants, fermentation, or cultivated meat—is critical to the long-term health of our planet. Replacing one out of every ten meat-based meals with a non-animal protein alternative could avoid as much carbon emissions as the aviation industry produces each year.  

Animal agriculture is inefficient and wasteful.

Right now, 26% of the total ice-free land is used for livestock to graze on, and an additional 33% of the world’s cropland is used for livestock feed. 90% of the world’s tropical deforestation can be attributed to animal agriculture, with 41% directly from beef. When you consider that 25 calories in feed are needed for just one calorie of beef, the inefficiency of land use in meat production is enormous. Given that alt proteins use a fragment of the land and water required, if even a tiny amount of current meat consumption were replaced by alternative sources of protein, the land and water conserved could instead be used to grow crops directly for human consumption–as opposed to that of livestock–and significantly address global food insecurity.

Why we need you.

The success in substantially reducing greenhouse gasses emitted from food production and animal agriculture hinges on developing, marketing, distributing, and selling top-notch alternative protein products at affordable prices.  The alt protein industry is expected to add up to 83 million jobs by 2050, and the best and the brightest are needed to change our environment through the ways we eat: farmers growing the physical crops, cell biologists to improve cultivated meat techniques, sensory scientists working to make sure dairy-free cheese is just as stringy as traditional cheese, biochemists looking at the molecular structure of the protein and enzymes for new products, and process engineers identifying ways to economically scale manufacturing. 

A surprisingly wide variety of skill sets and backgrounds are valuable to the alternative protein space. For those looking to make an impact on the environment with their career, the alt protein industry might be the most impactful way to do so. 

Learn more about careers in alternative protein here.

Not sure where to start? Read this article next.

Need help? Alt Protein Careers offers expert career consulting and coaching services. Find out more here.