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A vegan diet is best for the planet, according to a report by The Economist, which says plant-based eaters have a lower carbon footprint.
In an article titled How much would giving up meat help the environment?, the media outlet looks at multiple studies in a bid to find the most environmentally-friendly diet.
The studies include one published last week by scientists at the University of Minnesota and Oxford University, titled Multiple health and environmental impacts of foods.
The authors looked at the impact of food consumption on human health and the planet, considering ‘how consuming 15 different food groups is associated with five health outcomes and five aspects of environmental degradation’.
They analyzed the Averaged Relative Environmental Impact (AREI) of plant and animal foods, concluding: “Whole grain cereals, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and olive oil have an AREI of 4 or less per serving…Unprocessed red meats (AREI = 73) and processed red meats (AREI = 37) have the highest AREIs.”
Best for the planet
The Economist article concluded: “Giving up meat makes a big difference. For instance, compared with an American who eats 2,300 calories of a typical mix of foods, one who became vegetarian would knock 30 percent off their annual greenhouse-gas emissions from eating.
“But dairy, produced by methane-emitting cows, is still costly. Environmentally conscious omnivores can get similar reductions in their carbon footprints by cutting out milk and cheese.
“A better option still would be to go vegan for two-thirds of meals, while still occasionally indulging in animal products. Doing so would cut food-related greenhouse-gas emissions by nearly 60 percent. Absolute veganism, unsurprisingly, is the most environmentally friendly. Die-hard leaf-eaters can claim to have knocked off 85 percent off their carbon footprint.”