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The government on Tuesday proposed the use of meat alternatives as part of efforts to achieve a decarbonized society.

In its 2021 white paper on the environment, “sound material-cycle society” — where waste and use of natural resources is reduced as much as possible — and biodiversity, the government stressed the need to reform lifestyles to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

The white paper took up the issue of substitute meat products, such as those using soybeans and other plant-based ingredients, for the first time, noting that they cause less carbon dioxide emissions than meat during the manufacturing process.

The move comes after Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga declared last October that Japan will seek to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Food “may cause environmental impacts, such as through CO2 emissions during the production, processing and disposal stages, and development of forest areas for use as farmland,” the white paper said. The production of meat especially causes high levels of carbon dioxide emissions through the production and transport of feed, and the release of methane by livestock.

The report cited an increase in the number of restaurants and convenience stores offering meat alternatives.

“It is expected that alternative foods that look and feel like meat will be developed and become more familiar items,” it noted.

The white paper also emphasized the need to reduce carbon emissions related to the production, consumption and disposal of clothes.

It called on people to insulate their homes and use electricity generated from renewable energy sources.

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