Meat lovers are sometimes cast as environmental villains however maybe the situation is different. Maybe vegetarians and vegans pose a greater threat. It is a situation worthy of deeper examination.
Vegetarians and vegans often claim that their dietary lifestyle is better for the environment, that raising animals for meat creates far more greenhouse gases. This claim is accepted as a truism by many and few people question it. However, considering the vital importance of battling climate change, we need to seriously question all of our assumptions. Any significant mistakes that we make could be devastating. Asking questions about such widely held assumptions should be acceptable.
Based on some new evidence, it is possible that vegetarians and vegans could be dooming our environment more than meat eaters.
A new article published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition discussed a French study which tried to ascertain whether plant based diets were more environmentally friendly or not. The study confirmed that growing plants created less greenhouse gases than raising animals. However, that is only one part of a larger equation and is not determinative of the end result. When everything else is considered, a diet high in plants may actually lead to more greenhouse gases than a meat heavy diet.
How can that be true? It is because vegetarians and vegans need to eat lots of produce to create the equivalent amount of energy and calories that would be gained from a smaller portion of meat. When you add up the amount of greenhouse gases created by the larger amount of plants needed for a meat equivalent diet, the total may very well be larger than the meat total.
As an illustrative example, let us assume that the production of one portion of meat causes four times the amount of greenhouse gases as one portion of veggies. The problem is that a person may need to eat five or more portions of veggies to gain an equivalent amount of energy as that one portion of meat, which means their total greenhouse gases would be greater. The study indicated numerous people who ate more of a plant based diet were probably causing more greenhouse gases than those who are a more meat based diet.
The study is not definitive but it should make you reconsider your assumptions. Sustainability is not black or white, but is rather a complex issue where numerous factors need to be considered. Don't automatically assume eating meat is worse than eating plants. That is an overly simplistic viewpoint and doesn't take into consideration matters such as the total amount of plants that are necessary for a proper diet.
So stop demonizing meat eaters.