Worried about climate change' Forget food miles, air miles and SUVs, it's what's on your plate that really counts! That's the message in this week's New Scientist (17th Dec) which reports on a US study that concludes switching to a vegan diet is the best way to reduce greenhouse emissions.
In their study, Gidon Eshel and Pamela Martin from the University of Chicago, compared the amount of fossil fuel needed to cultivate and process various foods, including running agricultural machinery, providing food for livestock and irrigating crops. They also factored in emissions of methane and nitrous oxide produced by cows, sheep and manure treatment. They found that the typical US diet, about 28 per cent of which comes from animal sources, generates the equivalent of nearly 1.5 tonnes more carbon dioxide per person per year than a vegan diet with the same number of calories. By comparison, the difference in annual emissions between driving a typical saloon car and a hybrid car, which runs off a rechargeable battery and gasoline, is just over 1 tonne.
These findings echo what Viva!, the Bristol-based vegan campaigns group, has been saying for years " that meat and dairy production causes environmental degradation on a huge scale. Deserts spread wider every year by an area the size of England and Scotland and livestock grazing is the main cause. The world's fresh water supplies are drying up, yet it takes 100,000 litres of water to produce 1kg of beef compared to only 1000 litres for a tonne of wheat. Seventy per cent of all agricultural land in Britain is used to feed animals and rainforests are still being felled to graze hamburger cattle. However, if Britain went vegetarian, less than half the current farm land would be needed " vegan, less than a quarter.
'For too long environmental groups have ignored the damaging effects of animal agriculture, focusing instead on cars, food miles and factories', says Viva!'s Toni Vernelli. "This report confirms that the most important step anyone can take to help heal the planet is going vegan. As an added bonus, they'll also improve their own health and spare thousands of animals from suffering.'
For more information contact Toni Vernelli or Juliet Gellatley on 0117 944 1000.