What it's about:
Cutting meat and dairy products out of your diet is the most effective way to reduce your carbon footprint, according to the most comprehensive review of farming’s environmental impact to date.
Meat and dairy production accounts for 60 percent of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions and uses more than 80 percent of the world’s farmland, but provides only 18 percent of our calories and 37 percent of our protein, according to the study published in the journal Science.
The analysis also found a stark difference in the environmental impact of animal and plant farming. Beef production produces over six times more emissions and uses 36 times more land than production of plant protein, the study notes.
Lead researcher Joseph Poore from the University of Oxford concludes that “a vegan diet is the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth”.
Why it's noteworthy:
The study shows that changing your diet has a far bigger impact on the environment than avoiding air travel or buying an electric car.
Avoiding animal products not only reduces greenhouse gas emissions; it also cuts down on land and water use, and prevents global acidification, according to the researchers.
But a global shift to veganism is not required to significantly reduce people's carbon footprint, they add.
If plant-based food replaced half of the world’s most harmful animal products, it would still deliver more than 60 percent of the benefits of avoiding all meat and dairy, the study notes.
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