Scientists last year published the most comprehensive analysis to date on the damage mass farming does to the planet, the results show that avoiding meat and dairy products is the biggest way to reduce your environmental impact on the planet.
This is because Cows are the biggest creator of gasses, require a lot of space due to their size, and a lot of resources (food, land, water etc) to boot. Without meat and dairy consumption, the space that farm lands use could be reduced by more than 75%! This is the equivalent of the space that the US, China, Europe AND Australia use all together!
While meat and dairy use the most land, as well as producing more than 60% of the environment destroying green house gasses, it provides only 18% of the calories and 37% of the protein the world uses, which when using up 86% of the space, really shows an over reliance on this sort of food while having it not even cover all of our needs, meaning that 14% of the land is being used for 72% of our daily caloric intake!
The data of this study was very comprehensive, with the data set being based on almost 40,000 farms in over 100 countries while covering 40 food products that represent 90% of all that is eaten.
It assessed the full impact of these foods, from farm to fork, on land use, climate change emissions, freshwater use and water pollution (eutrophication) and air pollution (acidification).
“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,” said Joseph Poore, at the University of Oxford, UK, who led the research. “It is far bigger than cutting down on your flights or buying an electric car,” he said, as these only cut greenhouse gas emissions.
“Agriculture is a sector that spans all the multitude of environmental problems,” he said. “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.”