Dr. Lee, the Healthy Professor

Vegetarian diets worse for environment

Written by Dr. L. Lee Coyne | Views 1263

Eating the recommended “healthier” foods increased the environmental impact in all three categories: energy use, water use and GHG emissions.


Vegetarian and 'healthy' diets may actually be worse for the environment, study finds

lettuce baconAdvocates of vegetarianism – regularly point out how how harmful human consumption of meat is to the environment, but is opting for a fully vegetable-based, meat-free diet a viable way to cut down on energy use and greenhouse gas emissions?

According to new research from Carnegie Mellon University, following the USDA recommendations to consume more fruits, vegetables, dairy and seafood is more harmful to the environment because those foods have relatively high resource uses and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per calorie. Published in Environment Systems and Decisions, the study measured the changes in energy use, blue water footprint and GHG emissions associated with U.S. food consumption patterns.


A study from Carnegie Mellon University took a look at what it takes to produce different kinds of food, and found some kinds of vegetables use more resources and emit more greenhouse gases per calorie than certain kinds of meat.

"Eating lettuce is over three times worse in greenhouse gas emissions than eating bacon," Prof. Paul Fischbeck said in a release from the university. "Lots of common vegetables require more resources per calorie than you would think. Eggplant, celery and cucumbers look particularly bad when compared to pork or chicken."

The findings come from a study of the U.S. supply chain, with a view to explaining how obesity rates affect the environment, including water and energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.

However, eating the recommended “healthier” foods — a mix of fruits, vegetables, dairy and seafood — increased the environmental impact in all three categories: Energy use went up by 38 percent, water use by 10 percent and GHG emissions by 6 percent.

Sources

Carnegie Mellon University
The Telegraph

Further Reading

Vegetarian diet increases cancer and heart disease



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