Ecological Benefits

From lower carbon emissions, to decreased water consumption, to a more effective use of the world’s available land, vegetarianism and veganism provide lasting benefits to the ecosystem and can help reduce the impact of climate change. Changing to a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle has also been proven to aid in the rehabilitation of ocean wildlife, which is negatively impacted by over-fishing for human consumption.

In a 2014 paper, Peter Scarborough and his colleagues at Oxford University examined the actual diets of 29,589 meat eaters, 15,751 vegetarians, 8,123 pescatarians (that is, vegetarians who also ate fish), and 2,041 vegans aged 20-79 in the United Kingdom. What they found was enlightening, and included the following:

    1. The average vegan diet’s carbon footprint was about 60 percent lighter than the average diet heavy in meat (15.8 lbs of CO2 per day versus 6.4)
    2. Even reducing the amount of meat consumed reduced a person’s carbon footprint by 5.5 lbs per day, with 7.4 lb per day difference between heavy meat-eaters and vegetarians.
    3. Per kilogram of consumed product, lamb produced 39.2 kg of CO2 emissions, with the lowest CO2 production from a meat product being 6.9 kg of CO2 per kg of product (for Chicken). Alternatively, all vegetables, grains, and fruits produced less than 3 kg of CO2 per kg of product.

The United Nations population database has also shown that the average emissions from driving a car for 6 months are equivalent to the difference between the carbon emissions of 2 high meat-eaters and 2 vegetarians. Though the majority of carbon emission problems come from large corporations, the general population could have a phenomenal impact through being more conscientious of their consumption and the ecological impact of what they are eating.