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Vegan diet protects the climate

by Leo Frühschütz (comments: 0)

A vegan salad with green salad, beetroot and pear
Eliminating animal foods reduces greenhouse gases and the need for agricultural land. © Pixabay / Einladung_zum_Essen

A study from Austria shows the different CO2 balances of various diets. They can be improved by using organic products.

The fewer animal-based foods on the menu, the better it is for the climate and soil consumption. This is shown by a new study using Austria as an example. It was prepared by the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FIBL) and the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna.

70 per cent less greenhouse gases

The average meat-eating Austrian causes 1,467 kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalents (kg CO2-eq) through his diet. If this person changed their diet as recommended by the Austrian Nutrition Society (ANS), they would eat two-thirds less meat and sausage and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 28.2 percent to 1,053 kg CO2-eq. If the average Austrian did not eat any meat at all, greenhouse gas emissions would drop to 767 kg CO2-eq. If the average Austrian also omits eggs and dairy products and eats vegan, his diet emits only 439 kg CO2-eq, which corresponds to a reduction of 70 per cent.

Organic offers extra savings potential

"The choice of organic products could further increase this positive savings effect, in some cases significantly, with this additional effect being highest in the case of an optimized, omnivorous diet," the study states. Or the other way around: If you still want a bit of meat, then please go organic.

One third less land consumption

Reducing or eliminating animal-based foods not only reduces greenhouse gases but also the need for agricultural land. According to the study, the average meat-heavy diet requires 1,832 square meters per person per year. In contrast, the plants for a purely vegan diet require only 629 square meters per person, that’s only about one-third. The reason for the savings is the large areas needed to grow animal feed, both domestically and overseas. "Reducing meat consumption by as little as one-third makes it possible to replace soy and palm oil imports with domestic alternatives without taking up additional arable land," the study says. FIBL did not calculate an organic variant in terms of land consumption.



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