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Community vegan diet  best way to reduce your footprint | Upload Lifestyle

Vegan Diet: Best Way To Reduce Your Footprint

by: Annette Lavrijsen
vegan diet  best way to reduce your footprint | Upload

What we choose to eat and drink are strong determinants of human health, and we become more and more aware of the fact that the foods we choose and consume may significantly affect the environment. I’ve been a fulltime vegetarian for over 20 years, and it has only been months that I made the switch to being a part-time vegan. Influenced by news reports on global warming and studies that show a plant-based diet is least harmful to the wellbeing of our planet, I’m now replacing my cheese, eggs, and dairy ingredients by plant-based alternatives if available.
Blue plate, fruit, porrage, hand, #vegan
Image by: Edgar Castre

A Vegan Diet: Your Ecological Footprint Cut Up To 73 Percent

One of the latest additions to my list of pro-vegan studies is an analysis by researchers at the University of Oxford and the Swiss agricultural research institute Agroscope. This study, which was recently published in the journal Science, shows that cutting all meat and dairy products from your diet could reduce your ecological footprint up to 73 percent. The researchers found that meat and dairy products are responsible for 60 percent of agriculture’s climate change gas emissions and a vast majority of 83 percent of used farmland, while the products themselves are providing just 37 percent of protein levels and a mere 18 percent of calories worldwide. If everyone would stop eating meat and dairy, global farmland could be reduced by 75 percent – an area equivalent to the size of the US, Australia, China, and the EU combined – and still feed the world! Next to a significant drop in greenhouse gas emissions, it could promote biodiversity and the conservation of endangered animal and plant species. 

Recommended: Climate Change: Five Minutes To Midnight

Multi-Folded Footprint

The study is one of the most significant analyses to date into the damage farming does to the environment: it includes data on nearly 40,000 farms in 119 countries and examines how 40 primary foods (90 percent of all food that is eaten) impact the environment, taking into account the greenhouse gas emissions as well as water pollution (eutrophication), air-polluting (acidification), land use and water consumption.

Lead author Joseph Poore from Oxford’s Department of Zoology and the School of Geography and Environment said that ‘a vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your environmental impact on planet Earth. The effect is far bigger than cutting down on your flight or buying an electric car, as these would only reduce greenhouse gases’.

As if he could read our minds, the scientist added: ‘Avoiding consumption of all animal products delivers even far better environmental benefits than trying to purchase sustainable meat and dairy.’ He and his team found that the most sustainable meat and dairy products still cause much more environmental damage than the highest impact cereal, legumes, and vegetables growing. To illustrate: sustainable beef is responsible for six times more greenhouse gas emissions and 36 times more land than legumes. The researchers also looked into the different techniques used to produce the same foods and found considerable differences in environmental impact. For example, beef cattle raised on deforested land use 50 times more land than cows that rear on natural pastures.
Cows barren ground, #vegan
Image by: Annie Spratt

And it’s not just livestock and meat products that increase our environmental impact. Aquaculture, assumed to have relatively low emissions, can emit more methane and therefore create more greenhouse gases than cows. Even rice – which takes up about 12 percent of the global arable area – produces a lot of methane, for which it has one of the most significant plant carbon footprints. 

The Action Starts With Awareness

The vast diversity in agricultural foods and processes makes it challenging to find solutions to these environmental issues. Two foods that look similar in the shops can have significantly different impacts on the planet, says Poore. This variability isn’t fully reflected in policies aimed at reducing the environmental impact of farming, and apart from sustainability certifications that give guidance regarding matters such as pesticide-free produce and sustainable fishing, consumers are still being offered very little information about the impact of their food choices.

Besides keeping track of the latest news and studies, the best advice we can probably receive is to stay aware of the multi-folded impact of our food choices and – for the reasons mentioned above – to grant more time to a plant-based diet, even if it’s only a few days a week.

Cover image by Brenda Godin

Before you go!

Recommended: Eating insects Is Healthy, Tasty, And Cool: the United States.

Did you find this an interesting article, or do you have a question or remark? Leave a comment below. We try to respond the same day.

Like to write your article about healthy food?
Click on 'Register' or push the button 'Write An Article' on the 'HomePage.'

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Vegan Diet: Best Way To Reduce Your Footprint

What we choose to eat and drink are strong determinants of human health, and we become more and more aware of the fact that the foods we choose and consume may significantly affect the environment. I’ve been a fulltime vegetarian for over 20 years, and it has only been months that I made the switch to being a part-time vegan. Influenced by news reports on global warming and studies that show a plant-based diet is least harmful to the wellbeing of our planet, I’m now replacing my cheese, eggs, and dairy ingredients by plant-based alternatives if available. Image by: Edgar Castre A Vegan Diet: Your Ecological Footprint Cut Up To 73 Percent One of the latest additions to my list of pro-vegan studies is an analysis by researchers at the University of Oxford and the Swiss agricultural research institute Agroscope. This study, which was recently published in the journal Science, shows that cutting all meat and dairy products from your diet could reduce your ecological footprint up to 73 percent. The researchers found that meat and dairy products are responsible for 60 percent of agriculture’s climate change gas emissions and a vast majority of 83 percent of used farmland, while the products themselves are providing just 37 percent of protein levels and a mere 18 percent of calories worldwide. If everyone would stop eating meat and dairy, global farmland could be reduced by 75 percent – an area equivalent to the size of the US, Australia, China, and the EU combined – and still feed the world! Next to a significant drop in greenhouse gas emissions, it could promote biodiversity and the conservation of endangered animal and plant species.  Recommended:  Climate Change: Five Minutes To Midnight Multi-Folded Footprint The study is one of the most significant analyses to date into the damage farming does to the environment: it includes data on nearly 40,000 farms in 119 countries and examines how 40 primary foods (90 percent of all food that is eaten) impact the environment, taking into account the greenhouse gas emissions as well as water pollution (eutrophication), air-polluting (acidification), land use and water consumption. Lead author Joseph Poore from Oxford’s Department of Zoology and the School of Geography and Environment said that ‘a vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your environmental impact on planet Earth. The effect is far bigger than cutting down on your flight or buying an electric car, as these would only reduce greenhouse gases’. As if he could read our minds, the scientist added: ‘Avoiding consumption of all animal products delivers even far better environmental benefits than trying to purchase sustainable meat and dairy.’ He and his team found that the most sustainable meat and dairy products still cause much more environmental damage than the highest impact cereal, legumes, and vegetables growing. To illustrate: sustainable beef is responsible for six times more greenhouse gas emissions and 36 times more land than legumes. The researchers also looked into the different techniques used to produce the same foods and found considerable differences in environmental impact. For example, beef cattle raised on deforested land use 50 times more land than cows that rear on natural pastures. Image by: Annie Spratt And it’s not just livestock and meat products that increase our environmental impact. Aquaculture, assumed to have relatively low emissions, can emit more methane and therefore create more greenhouse gases than cows. Even rice – which takes up about 12 percent of the global arable area – produces a lot of methane, for which it has one of the most significant plant carbon footprints.  The Action Starts With Awareness The vast diversity in agricultural foods and processes makes it challenging to find solutions to these environmental issues. Two foods that look similar in the shops can have significantly different impacts on the planet, says Poore. This variability isn’t fully reflected in policies aimed at reducing the environmental impact of farming, and apart from sustainability certifications that give guidance regarding matters such as pesticide-free produce and sustainable fishing, consumers are still being offered very little information about the impact of their food choices. Besides keeping track of the latest news and studies, the best advice we can probably receive is to stay aware of the multi-folded impact of our food choices and – for the reasons mentioned above – to grant more time to a plant-based diet, even if it’s only a few days a week. Cover image by Brenda Godin Before you go! Recommended:  Eating insects Is Healthy, Tasty, And Cool: the United States . Did you find this an interesting article, or do you have a question or remark? Leave a comment below. We try to respond the same day. Like to write your article about healthy food? Click on  'Register'  or push the button 'Write An Article' on the  'HomePage.'
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