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The World Resources Institute released a report Wednesday that proposed reducing beef consumption as one of the strategies to achieve a sustainable food future by 2050. The institute is a global research organization that focuses on issues related to development and the environment.

According to the report’s lead author, Tim Searchinger, Americans consume a beef equivalent of three hamburgers per week. He says that they need to immediately cut that down to a hamburger and a half.

But it’s not just Americans. The study found that roughly 2 billion people living in countries that eat a lot of beef need to reduce their consumption by about 40%.

“This is a huge global challenge,” Searchinger said.

According to the report, beef accounts for roughly half of agricultural land use and emissions associated with U.S. diets, but provides just 3% of the calories.

Searchinger suggests that consumers should shift from cattle, sheep and goats to chicken, pork and vegetable-based alternatives.

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Decreasing the amount of beef consumption helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural production, which is part of the organization’s goals detailed in the report.

An industry group has disagreed with the report’s findings.

Citing numerous studies, including from the US Department of Agriculture, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association said in a statement sent to USA TODAY that a well-balanced diet that promotes health and sustainability does not include eliminating single foods, like beef.

“Most people are already eating beef within global dietary guidelines, so we assert the biggest opportunity for a healthy sustainable diet will come from reducing food waste, eating fewer empty calories and enjoying more balance meals,” the NCBA said.

Original story from usatoday

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