New UN Report Says Vegan Diet Vital To Saving The Environment, Curbing Fossil Fuel Use

At the end of a recent post sardonically asking readers if they preferred oil or manure in the water, I mentioned that eating less—and preferably no—meat, eggs, and dairy products can help reduce both manure and oil spills, as it takes 10 times more fossil fuels to produce meat than to produce vegan foods. Since that post, the International Panel for Sustainable Resource Management, a United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) resource panel, has released a report stating that a global shift towards a vegan diet is vital if we are to halt climate change and other environmental problems. The U.N. report also suggests curbing fossil fuel use, which can also be achieved by going vegan.

Experts predict that there will be at least 9 billion people in the world by 2050, and global meat consumption is projected to double by that time. Meat consumption has been steadily increasing in China and other countries that once followed a more sustainable diet rich in vegetables and whole soy foods. According to Scientific American, the UN report points out that more than half of the world’s crops are currently used to feed animals, and that conserving fuel and reducing pollution and greenhouse gasses will “only be possible with a substantial worldwide diet change, away from animal products.”

As things stand now, more than one-third of the fossil fuels produced in America are used to raise animals for food. Massive amounts of grains and soybeans are grown for animal feed (it takes about 700 calories worth of feed to produce just one 100-calorie piece of beef) and are transported to processors in gas-guzzling, pollution-spewing 18-wheelers. More energy is used up operating feed mills and factory farms, trucking animals to slaughter, operating slaughterhouses, and then trucking the meat to processing plants, and so on. (Some of these stages are needed to produce and store vegan foods too, of course, but if everyone goes vegan, there will be no need for feed mills, factory farms, and slaughterhouses—and the multiple tractor-trailer trips between them.)

Much like BP, I don’t know how to stop the ever-spreading oil spill in the gulf (although Matter of Trust’s “hairmat” program seems worth pursuing), but following the basic “use less, spill less” concept can help prevent future spills.

And since eating a vegan diet can help mitigate climate change, stop forest destruction, and reduce pollution—as well as animal suffering and many human health problems—I hope everyone will finally heed the U.N.’s call to go vegan. As the UNEP’s Janet Salem pointed out, many environmental problems can be traced to our choice of food. If you haven’t already done so, why not take the 30-day veg pledge and find out how easy it is to be green?


michael jackson
michael jackson9 months ago

There is an issue here of balance. To me less meat eaten means less cattle. I live in open countryside . When I first arrived there were cattle then there was a period when they were replaced and now they are back. What this confirms is the importance of cattle to the wider natural world. Cattle produce sloppy cow pats which are ideal for insects to lay eggs which means more insects. Insects are essential food for birds. In particular swallows and warblers. When the cattle were replaced the swallow population dropped from hundreds to a couple. Same for house martins. Now the cattle are back so are the birds. So before you make blanket proposals with good intentions you should consider the negative effects of that move. Nothing is that simple.

Dorothy M.
Dorothy M.9 months ago

Usama Z. -- Thank you for your excellent posts. I hope many people will read them and learn from them.

Dorothy M.
Dorothy M.9 months ago

Similar to Marie B., I chose to be vegan, and I chose not to have children. These two choices have given me a great deal of peace. What I eat does not conflict with my love and concern for animals. And not having children does not conflict with my concern for the environment. Both choices go hand in hand when considering the greater good.

Marie B.
Marie B.about a year ago

'Kate R', first of all, I am vegan. Secondy, apparently you forgot that your 'meat', the BILLIONS AND BILLIONS animals (soon be 'corpses') eat SEVERAL plants, animals, chemicals, GMO's, and use up (should I say, OVER USE SEVERAL WATER SUPPLY THAT WE HUMANS COULD USE), --did you forget that??
By the way, I know SEVERAL vegans who had NO CHILDREN, it doesn't matter though, because some people later in life what overpopulation what a problem is, what then when they have had children?? How many did you have? I've had ZERO children, btw.

The only problem with people feel 'superior' that put on people 'label' that people put they 'label' on us. You apparently are angry about VEGANS.
btw, I didn't make any 'sacrifices', I did what I'd do for animals, the environment, people and the future of the Earth. It's funny, I never looked it as a 'sacrifice', but you do. Interesting

Kate R.
Kate R.about a year ago

If the human population keeps expending at the rate it is doing, life on this planet will become unsustainable. A vegan family with several vegan children, uses up far more of the world's resources than a child-free omnivorous couple. If you want to "save the world" stop breeding, then there would be plenty of everything for everyone, factory farming would be unnecessary & die out, & the natural environment would be able to recover as it would be under less stress. But you won't, will you? You're not prepared to make the "sacrifice" of foregoing the production of your own personal tribe of mini-mes, & by your selfishness you're condemning all future generations to a truly miserable future. Many of them will be your direct decendents. But you'd rather spend your time slagging off meat-eaters because it makes you feel superior.

Usama Zubair
Usama Z2 years ago

The moral and ethical imperative is not to eat less of what is bad for us,cruel for the world's hungry and cruel for the animals as well as destructive to the planet, it is simply not debatable, it is unsustainable and a moral wrong just like slavery, rape or child molestation and it must not be condoned or encouraged in any way.

This absurdity of "eat less meat" is a conformist and absurd rational to continuing the horrible practice.

Eat less flesh and mammary secretions, is like saying have less slaves, rape less, molest children less. Eating animals is a social evil that must be abolished, it is wrong to unnecessarily devour sentient beings who are born into a life of oppression and exploitation and systematically mass murdered to satisfy gluttonous appetites and by doing so grave we rip grave consequences that plague humans with disease and ravage the Earth, nature and the environment.

Usama Zubair
Usama Z2 years ago

Animal agriculture is destroying the planet and killing the world's hungry and ecology too. switching to a plant based diet is the ONLY viable solution to world hunger and environmental crisis. Every HOUR, over 8 million animals are murdered, 114 thousand tons of grain are wasted and around 684 people starve to death, and over 4 million tons of greenhouse gases are dumped into the atmosphere by livestock. Every HOUR.

Over population is not as much an issue as what the population consumes is. animal-sourced food production has been found to generate more than 50% of human-caused greenhouse gases, more than all the transport(only 13%) in the world and any other human caused contributing factor combined. Methane and Nitrous oxide are as significant,if not more, as carbon that can be addressed immediately due to their short half-life, a significant impact could be made to slowing or reversing climate change by reducing these greenhouse gases caused by livestock. Eating local and driving a hybrid reduces your carbon footprint by only 5%. Eating plant based foods or a vegan diet reduces your carbon footprint by an astonishing 95%! Go Vegan and make a huge impact for the better. Eating a plant based diet also drastically reduces your chances of diseases by 95%. Eating a plant based diet saves wildlife and habitats for wildlife, rain forests, huge amounts of water and energy resources.

The moral and ethical imperative is not to eat less of what is bad for us,cruel for the world

Dale O.

M.S., life is often about compromises and you have a measured and logical view of the world instead of the all or nothing we are all doomed version that some vegans are fond of advocating, as for some it is either my way or the highway. However, while many vegans are educated and choose to live in the world instead of their own selfish bubble also applies to many omnivores and vegetarians as well.

Cayla B, you may believe that your body is more ‘pure’ than anyone who is either omnivore or vegetarian (some who eat dairy and eggs) but that is a myth perpetrated by vegans. We can still love animals and the environment no matter what our diet is. I eat an organic omnivore diet and because what I eat is also a balanced diet, non-factory farm, I also have more energy, have clear skin, no weight problem (except for people nagging me to ‘put more meat on my bones’) because they seem to forget that if one canoes, kayaks and is physically active that one can also be lean as well. Veggies that are consumed are ‘graveyard’ material themselves.

Dale O.

Fateh B states that: "Meat eaters are defensive, and the reason is because they associate meat with a clean little package bought in a super market. A friend of mine in Israel took an American out to the desert on a camping trip and told him he would have to kill the goat if he wanted to eat meat. Well, the big strong American man almost had a nervous breakdown. Guess what he is a vegetarian now."

Omnivores don't hold a candle to how defensive some vegans can get. A man travelled to the ends of the Earth and was told that he would have to pull the carrot out of the ground all by himself, getting dirt on his fingers. He runs and eats only GMO pre-cut and plastic wrapped packaged veggies now. See how ridiculous that statement ridiculous as is the statement about having to kill a goat himself in order to eat meat. Non-factory farm meat is healthy in moderation.

Decrepitude Aplenty
Holly Reedy3 years ago

Vegan 4 life!