Shift to Vegan Food Would Create 19 Million Jobs in Latin America and Caribbean
Shifting to a plant-based food system could create millions of jobs.

Shifting to a predominantly vegan food system could create millions of job opportunities across Latin America and the Caribbean, says a new report by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

The report, titled “Jobs in a net-zero emissions future in Latin America and the Caribbean,” suggests that while a transition away from animal agriculture would result in job losses, these would easily be made up for in the plant-based sector.

Around 4.4 million who work in the livestock and fishing industries would lose their jobs, but decarbonization, or a shift towards a net-zero economy, would create around 22.5 million. Around 19 million of these would be in plant-based food production.

‘A Green and Inclusive Recovery Is Essential’

Animal agriculture has a detrimental impact on the environment. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions come from livestock.

A shift to a net-zero economy is particularly important following the coronavirus pandemic, which has hit “even the most prosperous” Latin American and Caribbean countries hard, says the report. It warns that the impact of climate change could hit even harder.

“A green and inclusive recovery is essential to help confront the climate crisis and build a better future,” Ana Maria Rodriguez-Ortiz, vice president for sectors and knowledge of the IDB, and Moussa Oumarou, deputy director for field operations and partnerships at the ILO, wrote in a joint statement.

“If we do not act now, the same vulnerabilities that exposed workers and enterprises to the pandemic will expose them to the climate crisis,” they added.

As well as plant-based food production, the report suggests that jobs could also be created in ecotourism. Both Latin America and the Caribbean are home to 50 percent of the world’s tropical forests, as well as 40 percent of biodiversity.

The authors are clear that the findings of the report are not predictions for what is to come. Instead, they are an “exploration” of a potential future.

“The report shares timely lessons to help guide a post-coronavirus recovery that prioritizes the creation of decent jobs and a more inclusive, sustainable, and resilient future,” added Rodriguez-Ortiz and Oumarou. “This can be a path to creating a better world for workers and enterprises while also tackling the climate crisis.”