Reading Time: < 1 minute Healthy diets free of meat showed significantly less water use than those that included it
Reading Time: < 1 minute

Healthy meat-free diets decrease food-related water use, according to a new study.

The study, published by Nature Sustainability, shared that a healthy animal-free diet showed a significant decrease in water use, versus a healthy diet that includes meat.


For the purpose of the study, eating habits in the UK, Germany, and France were analyzed.

Focusing specifically on ‘healthy’ diets, both with and without meat, the vegetarian diet showed a decrease in water use of 35-55 percent over a standard, or less healthy diet.

It said: “In other words, shifting to a healthy diet is not only good for human health, but also substantially reduces consumption of water resources, consistently for all geographical entities throughout the three countries.”

A ‘healthy’ vegetarian diet outperformed a ‘healthy’ omnivorous diet with respect to water conservation.

Plant foods

While vegan diets were not one of the main categories of the above research, another study – published by the University of Twente – did examine the correlation between individual food items and water footprint.

The study placed dairy, meat, and eggs all at the upper end of the spectrum with respect to water use, and plant foods at the bottom – with fruits, vegetables, starchy roots, and sugar crops using the least water overall based on a use per a kilogram analysis.

Cereals and starchy root vegetables were shown to use the least water when a per calorie analysis was applied.

Emily Court

Emily Court is a writer and content creator published in Plant Based News, Raise Vegan, Living Vegan and The Financial Diet. A self-described "recovering vegan hothead," she is now a pragmatic member of Vancouver's vibrant and growing plant-powered community. Hailing from Halifax, Nova Scotia, she holds a BA in Spanish and certificate in Intercultural Communication from Dalhousie University, where her thesis focused on topics of cultural and gender-based discrimination. She aims to apply a privilege-conscious and culturally sensitive approach to her work in all fields.