Following a plant-based diet can be the “single biggest way” to reduce your environmental impact on earth, a new study suggests. Researchers at the University of Oxford found that cutting meat and dairy products from your diet could reduce an individual’s carbon footprint by up to 73%. Meanwhile, if everyone stopped eating these foods, they found that global farmland use could be reduced by 75%, an area equivalent to the size of the US, China, Australia and Europe combined. Not only would this result in a significant drop in greenhouse gas emissions, it would also free up wild land lost to agriculture, one of the primary causes of mass wildlife extinction.
According to the authors, “A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification, eutrophication, land use and water use.” They also noted that it has a far bigger impact than cutting down on your flights or buying an electric car, which would only reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The new study, published in the journal Science, is one of the most comprehensive analyses to date into the detrimental effects farming can have on the environment and included data on nearly 40,000 farms in 119 countries.
So if you consider yourself an environmentalist, but you still eat animal products, think again! Avoiding the consumption of animal products delivers far better environmental benefits than trying to purchase sustainable meat and dairy.
Learn more about the impact of our food choices on the planet.