Meat Eaters Produce Double the Greenhouse Gases as Vegans
It is well known that the production of animal-based foods results in higher greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than plant-based foods. This study aimed to estimate the difference in dietary GHG emissions between self-selected meat-eaters, pescatarians, vegetarians, and vegans in the U.K. The researchers did so by assessing “comparable data on actual diets of [over 55,000] vegans, vegetarians, fish-eaters and meat-eaters to estimate the difference in dietary GHG emissions attributable to these four diet groups. Previous estimates of dietary GHG emissions for self-selected dietary groups have not compared meat consumers with those who abstain from meat.” Earlier studies guessed GHG emissions using modeled estimates of reduced meat diets and, therefore, may not have reflected “true differences in consumption behaviour between dietary groups.”
This research found that “dietary GHG emissions in self-selected meat-eaters are approximately twice as high as those in vegans.” Meat-eating men were found to generate the most dietary GHGs, while vegan women generated the least. Overall, a vegetarian and pescatarian diet produced similar amounts of GHGs - about a third less than average meat-eaters. However, being vegan reduced dietary GHG emissions even more: by nearly half (49%) when compared to average meat-eaters. The study found that there were "significant trends" towards reduced fat and protein consumption, and increased carb and fiber consumption as less animal products were consumed.
Advocates supporting or encouraging those likely to opt for vegetarian or vegan diets due to environmental reasons would do well to take note of the findings of this broad study. Being veg is clearly better for the planet as well as being better for animals.
August 18, 2015 - by Faunalytics
Scarborough, P., Appleby, P.N., Mizdrak, A., Briggs, A.D.M. Travis, R.C., et al. (2014). Dietary Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Meat-Eaters, Fish-Eaters, Vegetarians and Vegans in the UK. Climatic Change, 125(2). pp. 179-192.