A study published last month in the scholarly journal Environment Systems and Decisions appears to contradict mounting evidence that meat farming is worse for the environment than growing fruits and vegetables.
According to new research from a team of Carnegie Mellon University scientists, “following the USDA recommendations to consume more fruits, vegetables, dairy and seafood is more harmful to the environment because those foods have relatively high resource uses and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per calorie.”
In other words, the study says that following a mostly vegetarian diet has a more profound impact on climate change than eating meat.
“Eating lettuce is over three times worse in greenhouse gas emissions than eating bacon,” said Paul Fischbeck, professor of social and decisions sciences and engineering and public policy at Carnegie Mellon, in a press release. “Lots of common vegetables require more resources per calorie than you would think. Eggplant, celery and cucumbers look particularly bad when compared to pork or chicken.”
The research team looked at the entire food supply chain--from growing, to processing and transporting food, food sales and service, household storage and use—to determine what impact each step took on resources in the form of energy use, water use and GHG emissions.