There's a lot of debate around the vegan diet. Some people are worried about the health effects. But after research, we learned the main difference was a vegan diet may have cardiovascular benefits. We also were able to address some nutrition concerns of going vegan.
The other concern is for the environment. With climate change as an ongoing problem, lots of people are wondering how their diet is playing a role. Well, let's take a look at the science and find out.
What Are Greenhouse Gasses? And, Why Are They Important?
One of the main contributors to climate change is the release of excess greenhouse gasses (GHG). GHG emissions trap heat and raise the temperature of the earth, hence the term “global warming”. Greenhouse gases effect the earth’s climate as well as our health, welfare, and ecosystems.
Different greenhouse gasses come from many different things. Among these is agriculture, which led to 11% of greenhouse gas emissions in 2020. A few gasses emitted from agriculture are carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. Carbon dioxide is released from the fossil fuels used for farm machinery and the transport, storage, and preparation of food. Nitrous oxide comes from tilled and fertilized soils. And, methane emissions can result from fermentation within the digestive tract of livestock. This fermentation leads to over a quarter of agricultural GHG emissions.
GHG Emissions From Diets
Since our food systems contribute quite a bit to GHG emissions, then what effect do our diets have? This is what researchers in the UK sought to find out. The study looked at differences in GHG emissions between vegans, vegetarians, fish-eaters, and meat-eaters. They grouped participants based on their frequency of consuming animal products. Then gas emissions were estimated using food codes and a food frequency questionnaire.
The research showed significant differences in dietary emissions between diets. In fact, the GHG emissions for meat-eaters was 50-54% higher than that of vegetarians. And, 99-102% higher than that of vegans. The highest emissions were from males who ate ≥ 100 grams of meat per day. That’s about half a cup of cooked ground beef!
Eating to Help the Planet
Cutting down on meat is a simple task that can help our world and the people in it. If you’re not ready to go vegan, that's okay. Even a small change in the amount of meat you’re eating can make a difference. This can be as simple as doing meatless Mondays or swapping bacon with a delicious vegan sausage.
Change can start with you!
Show us how you cut down on meat using the hashtag #wokthiswaytoday