Such a switch would cause upheaval in the agricultural industry, since many developed nations have subsidized corn and grain production for years and poured money into researching these crops, far more so than fruits and vegetables; but as study co-author Evan Fraser said, “What we are producing at a global level is not what we should be producing according to nutritionists.” The surplus of these less-than-healthy crops is presumably contributing to the current epidemic of obesity and diabetes.
Next, the study examined what the land use implications would be for altering the global diet to fit the HHEP model. While the land required to produce grains, sugar, fat, and oil would decrease, the amount needed for vegetable and fruit would have to increase by 171 million hectares. Ultimately this would result in “50 million fewer hectares of arable land because fruits and vegetables take less land to grow than grain, sugar, and fat.”
Pastureland, however, is a big problem. Right now 3,433 million ha are used to graze livestock and increasing meat consumption to HHEP levels would require an additional 458 million ha. This is not sustainable and reveals the importance of finding alternative protein sources as the population grows. The study authors do not think global vegetarianism makes sense:
“In parts of the world where malnutrition is still prevalent, increased consumption of livestock products can help improve the well-being of the rural poor. In addition, animal agriculture and animal-based diets are culturally important for people around the world. Hence, meat consumption will continue, but cannot persist at today’s levels without major consequences.”