Diets that fight global warming

The food we consume has a massive impact on our planet. According to one analysis, based on UN data, the diet that helps fight global warming the most, by having the least greenhouse emissions, is the vegan diet followed by a vegetarian diet. You can see how the different diets stack up when it comes to global warming in the graph below.

Bar chart
How much CO2e (in billions of tonnes, or Gt) would be saved if the whole world switched to each of these diets. Terms as defined by CarbonBrief. Data: IPCC.

When it comes to global warming we need to move fast if we are to avoid the worst consequences of global warming. A switch to a plant-based diet may be just what we need to avoid the worst consequences of global warming.

The worldwide phase out of animal agriculture, combined with a global switch to a plant-based diet, would effectively halt the increase of atmospheric greenhouse gases for 30 years, and give humanity more time to end its reliance on fossil fuels, according to a new study by scientists from Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley. Even just phasing out animal agriculture over the next 15 years would have the same effect as a 68 percent reduction of carbon dioxide emissions through the year 2100. This would provide 52 percent of the net emission reductions necessary to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, which scientists say is the minimum threshold required to avert disastrous climate change.

According to one of the scientists, “Reducing or eliminating animal agriculture should be at the top of the list of potential climate solutions.” We’re not surprised as other studies have concluded that animal agriculture is a prime culprit behind global warming. For instance, scientists at the World Bank concluded that farming animals was the cause of 51% of all greenhouse emissions – larger than all the other sources combined. A United Nations report found that animal agriculture causes more greenhouse gas emissions than all the cars, trucks, ships, trains and planes in the world all put together.

Animal agriculture will be reduced as more and more people stop eating animal products. We can all do our part by switching to a plant-based diet.