A vegan diet, according to the University of California, has a substantially smaller carbon footprint than the usual American diet. However, if you want to reduce the environmental effect of what you consume, you don’t have to make such severe changes.
According to a new UCLA study, adopting a so-called “Mediterranean diet” can significantly reduce your carbon emissions, if not to the same extent as a vegan diet—but it can even be more impactful than living like a “climatarian” (i.e., someone who shops locally, seasonally, and buys fresh food).
According to the UCLA research, food production and consumption account for 26% of total greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. To put that into context, all the vehicles in the U.S. make up only about 22% of our emissions.
So our food choices do have an influence—if all 80% of Americans opted to eat a more climate-friendly diet—an obviously difficult task—the climate impact would be about equivalent to driving 1.34 trillion fewer miles per day.
Simply consume less beef and lamb to reduce your carbon footprint with the least amount of effort. Because of the massive quantity of land and water required to rear the animals, red meat has an outsized influence on emissions when compared to other diets.
Just a small vegan and Mediterranean diet substitution can allow you to consume more ecologically responsible meals.
Reference- Journal Nutrients, National Geographic, Futurism, UCLA Study