As global warming becomes an ever-increasing threat, experts have said going vegan is the single best way to save our planet.
The amount of farmland used to fuel our meat-eating habits could be reduced massively, according to new research about the damage farming does to the planet.
Scientists conducted the most comprehensive analysis to date on the issue and found, without meat and dairy consumption, global farmland use could be reduced by more than 75 per cent, while still feeding the world.
For clarity, that’s a reduction of land equivalent to the size of the US, China, the European Union and Australia combined, The Guardian report.
The leading cause of the current mass extinction of wildlife is down to the destruction of wild areas for agriculture, while farming meat produces 60 per cent of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions.
The research also revealed, even the very lowest impact, meat and dairy products still cause a great deal more environmental harm than the least sustainable vegetable and cereal growing.
Scientists looked at data from 38,700 farms and covered 40 food products that represent 90 per cent of all that’s eaten, assessing the full impact of the foods on land use, climate change emissions, freshwater use, water pollution and air pollution.
Joseph Poore, from Oxford University, lead the research, and spoke about why he started looking into the issue:
The reason I started this project was to understand if there were sustainable animal producers out there.
But I have stopped consuming animal products over the last four years of this project.
These impacts are not necessary to sustain our current way of life. The question is how much can we reduce them and the answer is a lot.
He also explained the findings, saying:
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.
It is far bigger than cutting down on your flights or buying an electric car. Agriculture is a sector that spans all the multitude of environmental problems.
Really it is animal products that are responsible for so much of this.
Avoiding consumption of animal products delivers far better environmental benefits than trying to purchase sustainable meat and dairy.
There are over 570 million farms all of which need slightly different ways to reduce their impact. It is an [environmental] challenge like no other sector of the economy.
The research is incredibly eye-opening, and will hopefully make people think about how they can change their lifestyle to benefit our planet and future generations.
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Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.