Veg Diets Greatly Reduce Water Use
The link between agricultural production and environmental degradation is becoming increasingly well-established. This paper looks at the subject of food choices, specifically the differences between “vegetarian and non-vegetarian” diets, to try to understand how resource intensive each diet is. There have been other attempts to quantify the ecological consequences of modern agriculture, but most of them “are comparisons of discretely selected food items, not direct, quantifiable comparisons of whole diets.” This study looked at the relationship between dietary preferences and their environmental impact within the state of California. This state was selected because California has historically been “the largest producer of agricultural and food products in the United States,” and the findings are particularly salient given the current problems California has with drought.
Using data from a wide-ranging study looking into the diets of 7th Day Adventists, the researchers analyzed information from 34,000 California respondents and found some major differences in the resource intensiveness of veg vs. non-veg diets. The authors state that “the difference in water use for the vegetarian and nonvegetarian diet was 1000 L (264 gallons)/wk.” Those with a veg diet conserved an equivalent of 54% of the weekly per capita indoor water consumption. The researchers conclude that “a plant-based diet provides a significant water conservation benefit.” For advocates, this study is another source in an increasingly overwhelming tide of data which shows that a veg diet is much more environmentally sound.