London: Researchers believe that eating less meat would protect water resources in dry areas around the world.
Reducing the use of animal products can have a considerable impact on areas suffering scarce water resources, as meat production requires more water than other agricultural products, said the researchers.
By reducing the animal product contribution in the diet, global green water (rainwater) consumption decreases up to 21 percent while for blue water (irrigation water) the reductions would be up to 14 percent.
In other words, it is possible to secure adequate food supply for an additional 1.8 billion people without increasing the use of water resources by shifting to vegetarian diet.
"Diet change together with other actions, such as reduction of food losses and waste, may tackle the future challenges of food security," said Mika Jalava from Aalto University in Finland.
According to the United Nations, global population is expected to exceed 9 billion by 2050, adding over 2 billion mouths to be fed to the current population.
The researchers assessed the impact of diet change on global water resources over four scenarios, where the meat consumption was gradually reduced while diet recommendations in terms of energy supply, proteins and fat were followed.
The study was published in the journal Environmental Research Letters.