Contrary to claims by vegetarians and the activist groups that promote their world view and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s speech at the United Nations climate talks in Paris, eating a vegetarian diet could actually add to climate change.
As per the new Carnegie Mellon University research, 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.
The study measured the changes in energy use, blue water footprint and GHG emissions associated with U.S. food consumption patterns.
Eating lettuce is over three times worse in greenhouse gas emissions than eating bacon, said researcher Paul Fischbeck, adding “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.”
On one hand, the results showed that getting our weight under control and eating fewer calories, has a positive effect on the environment and reduces energy use, water use and GHG emissions from the food supply chain by approximately 9 percent.
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.
The study is published in Environment Systems and Decisions.