The New Meat

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Scientists recently discovered that deforestation could be drastically reduced if people start eating meat made out of fungi, the Guardian reported.

In a new study, a research team described how this type of meat is made from microbial protein, which can be produced from different organisms, including bacteria. The protein is made in warm bioreactors with the microorganisms fed sugar. Over the past decades, companies have been able to produce microbial protein using fungi, one of the main sources on the market.

Using computer models and different projections, the team found that deforestation would decline by 56 percent if humanity replaced about 20 percent of beef with the novel meat. They also observed that the substitution would result in fewer forested areas being cut to create new pastureland.

Previous research has shown that microbial meat and beef have a similar protein quality, adding that the former produces 80 percent less greenhouse gas emissions.

“The good news is that people do not need to (worry that) they can eat only greens in the future,” said lead author Florian Humpenöder.

Other researchers noted that the alternative “offers huge future potential for more sustainable food provision.”

Still, Humpenöder posited that microbial protein is not a “silver bullet” but an important step in transforming the entire food and agricultural system.

That is important, scientists say, because deforestation has become difficult to reduce in spite of  pledges last year by world leaders during the United Nations Climate talks in Glasgow to “halt and reverse forest loss by 2030.”

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