Earlier this week, a United Nations report predicted that climate change will likely lead to international starvation, drought, and extreme weather events by the 2040s.
On Wednesday, a team of European researchers pushed the conversation forward with a landmark report about the changes we’d need to make to the global food system to mitigate fallout from climate change and a growing population.
Their conclusion is that sidestepping the worst possible harm from climate change is possible, but it’ll require sweeping dietary changes across the globe. The biggest shift: Everybody will have to lay off meat and adopt a “flexitarian” diet made up mostly of plants.
Individuals can make dietary decisions that will offset their carbon footprints, the researchers said, but to avoid looming catastrophe, governments across the world will need to make sweeping policy changes to encourage flexitarian diets.
“I think we can do it, but we really need much more proactive governments to provide the right framework,” said lead researcher Marco Springmann, from the University of Oxford, in an interview with the Guardian. “People can make a personal difference by changing their diet, but also by knocking on the doors of their politicians and saying we need better environmental regulations.”
READ MORE: Options for Keeping the Food System Within Environmental Limits [Nature]
More on climate change: Report: Unless We Make Dramatic Changes, We’re Headed for Climate Catastrophe