Vegan food can literally save the Earth, according to new research. Talk about the power of plants.
A new study published in the journal Science details the largest-ever analysis of the impact that food production has on the planet. The study concluded that ditching or reducing animal products in the diet and in commodities is the single most effective way to reduce one’s environmental impact.
Researchers gathered the data from a comprehensive base of information. It looked at about 40,000 farms from across 119 countries, specifically focusing on the production of 40 key food products that account for 90 percent of total food consumed. The environmental impact of these foods was assessed with the basis of land allocation, carbon emissions that contribute to climate change, freshwater usage, air pollution (“acidification”), and water pollution (“eutrophication”).
The research showed that while 80 percent of the globe’s total farmland is used to rear livestock, this produces just 18 percent of total food calories and 35 percent of protein. It also accounts for 58 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, 57 percent of water pollution, and 56 percent of air pollution.
“A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification, eutrophication, land use and water use,” Joseph Poore from the University of Oxford, U.K., who led the research told media publication The Guardian. “It is far bigger than cutting down on your flights or buying an electric car,” he noted because this method of reducing one’s environmental impact can only reduce some greenhouse gas emissions.
“Agriculture is a sector that spans all the multitude of environmental problems,” Poore continued. “Really it is animal products that are responsible for so much of this. Avoiding consumption of animal products delivers far better environmental benefits than trying to purchase sustainable meat and dairy.”
The study also found a significant difference in the impact of producing beef compared to plant-based protein. The method of beef production that accounted for the least significant environmental impact was still accredited to 36 times greater land usage and six times greater greenhouse gas emissions than pea production. This representation of animal agriculture’s link to unsustainability is notable because a recent study said 60 percent of all mammals on Earth are livestock – it highlighted the impact humanity has upon the planet’s biodiversity and wildlife, although humans comprise only a minute portion of all life.
The results of this new study are echoed by other recent research amid the global climate crisis becoming more prominent as an issue plaguing consumers while the benefits veganism poses to the health of the Earth consequently gains awareness. Reducing consumption of animal products or adopting a wholly plant-based diet has been hailed by the likes of scientists, researchers, and environmentalists alike among more as a viable solution to mitigating global warming.