• ‘Healthy’ and veg diets are harmful for the environment

    We have reasons to believe that conventional dietary advice is questionable and that veg diets advocacy seems to be more about ideology than having actual knowledge about what constitutes a healthy diet.

    Now, a study published in Environmental Systems and Decisions found that these diets have a greater negative impact on the environment:

    The three dietary scenarios we examine include (1) reducing Caloric intake levels to achieve “normal” weight without shifting food mix, (2) switching current food mix to USDA recommended food patterns, without reducing Caloric intake, and (3) reducing Caloric intake levels and shifting current food mix to USDA recommended food patterns, which support healthy weight. This study finds that shifting from the current US diet to dietary Scenario 1 decreases energy use, blue water footprint, and GHG emissions by around 9 %, while shifting to dietary Scenario 2 increases energy use by 43 %, blue water footprint by 16 %, and GHG emissions by 11 %. Shifting to dietary Scenario 3, which accounts for both reduced Caloric intake and a shift to the USDA recommended food mix, increases energy use by 38 %, blue water footprint by 10 %, and GHG emissions by 6 %. These perhaps counterintuitive results are primarily due to USDA recommendations for greater Caloric intake of fruits, vegetables, dairy, and fish/seafood, which have relatively high resource use and emissions per Calorie.

    As usual, remember that there is not a morally superior diet than another — but those who feel they must base their eating habits in an ethical precept, might find this information useful.

    And it makes no sense to make ethical decisions based on ideology or wishful thinking, much less when science is giving us tangible facts and evidence in this regard.

    (via Alexis Rebolledo)

    Category: Skepticism and Science


    Article by: Ðavid A. Osorio S

    Skeptic | Blogger | Fact-checker
    • Simon James

      You are cherry picking evidence, if you read the study they go and replace meat calorie per calorie with things that vegans just don’t use a significant sources of calories. So for example despite the fact that per gram lettuce is better than meat for GHG emissions, on a calorie per calorie basis it does awfully because its mainly water. Its like 15 cals per 100g. One would have to eat 15 to 20 Kgs of lettuce to live on it alone! It doesn’t happen. All the paper is saying if one makes a straight calorie for calorie substitution of meat with some of the things USDA says are healthy, like lettuce, then this could increase GHG emissions.

      Slow hand clap. (also see the commentary by other researchers on this article http://foodsystems.msu.edu/news/commentary_energy_use_ghg_and_blue_water_impacts )

      If you actually look at what vegans and omnivores actually eat on the other hand, a vegan diet is much better for the environment. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10584-014-1169-1

      Like much better. http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2016/03/16/1523119113.full