We already know that switching to a whole foods plant based diet can have tremendous benefits on your health. Let’s look at some of the amazing benefits a plant-based diet can have on the environment.
Environmental Impact of Animal-Based Diets
- The Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that red meat (beef, lamb) causes 10 to 40 times as many greenhouse gas emissions as vegetables and grains.
- Per EWG, livestock feed in the U.S. requires 167 million pounds of pesticides and 17 billion pounds of nitrogen fertilizer each year across 149 million acres of cropland.
- Per Professor David Pimentel of Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Science, the consumption of grains by the 7 billion livestock in the U.S. is equivalent to 5X the grains consumed by the entire U.S. population!
- 20% of overall U.S. methane generation comes from cattle.
- ONE gallon of milk requires 1000 gallons of water.
- According to PEW Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production, 87% of all fresh water usage is spent on agriculture.
- Per US Environmental Protection Agency: 70% of water pollution in U.S. rivers, lakes is due to pollution from animal farms
Environmental Impact of Plant-Based Diets:
- Greenhouse gas emission
- 63% lower with Vegetarian diets and 70% lower with Vegan diets than non-vegetarian diets.
- Widespread adoption of a vegan diet could help avoid >8 million deaths by 2050
- Widespread adoption of a vegetarian diet could save 7.3 million lives.
- Changing to a vegetarian diet could save $1 trillion annually through decreased health care costs and lost productivity.
- 1 kilogram of protein produced from beans versus beef requires:
- 18X less land
- 10X less water
- 9X less fuel
- 12X less fertilizer
- 10X less pesticide
- Raphaely T, Marinova D. Impact of Meat Consumption on Health and Environmental Sustainability. Hershey, PA: IGI Global; 2016.
- Marlow HJ, Harwatt H, Soret S, Sabaté J. Comparing the water, energy, pesticide and fertilizer usage for the production of foods consumed by different dietary types in California. Public Health Nutr. 2015;18(13):2425-2432.
- Sranacharoenpong K, Soret S, Harwatt H, Wien M, Sabate J. The environmental cost of protein food choices. Public Health Nutr. 2015;18(11):2067-2073.
- . Soret S, Mejia A, Batech M, JaceldoSiegl K, Harwatt H, Sabate J. Climate change mitigation and health effects of varied dietary patterns in real-life settings throughout North America. Am J Clin Nutr. 2014;100(suppl 1):490S-495S.
- Hallström E, Carlsson-Kanyama A, Börjesson P. Environmental impact of dietary change: A systematic review. J Cleaner Prod. 2015;91:1-11.
- Marco Springmann, H. Charles J. Godfray, Mike Rayner, and Peter Scarborough. Analysis and valuation of the health and climate change cobenefits of dietary change PNAS 2016 113 (15) 4146-4151; published ahead of print March 21, 2016, doi:10.1073/pnas.1523119113.