Just in time for Thanksgiving, another study proposes the environmental benefits of veganism.
Virginia Tech researchers conducted an experiment to determine how lifestyle choices might affect agricultural emissions and food production. Specifically, they wanted to know what might happen if all Americans became vegans.
The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was based on a model the researchers created that eliminated animal agriculture from America’s farms, which meant all animal-derived foods suddenly vanished. They then calculated how such a change would affect greenhouse gas emissions based on the model.
The study found agricultural GHG emissions would decrease 28%.
A nice number, but those of us associated with the meat industry might pose some relevant questions about the number.
First, the 28% total agricultural GHG emissions decrease is only about half of what animals now contribute to the total. That means to make up for the lack of protein foods we would need to produce other foods – which have their own GHG impact.
Second, the study’s authors say eliminating animal agriculture would reduce total U.S. GHG by 2.6%. That’s not a misprint. Stop raising food animals and the GHG impact is less than 3%.
Not much of an impact if we all became vegans overnight. Eliminating animals from farms means no manure to use as fertilizer, and we’d need to find new ways to dispose of plant wastes that animals currently turn into milk and meat. Oh, and there’s those vast areas of the Great Plains and the West that can’t be plowed, but on which ruminants graze now. Yeah, those ranches disappear if we all go vegan.
But what about the actual food available under an all-vegan society. Here’s what the researcher’s said: “This assessment suggests that removing animals from U.S. agriculture would reduce agricultural GHG emissions, but would also create a food supply incapable of supporting the U.S. population’s nutritional requirements.”
Wow...“incapable of supporting…nutritional requirements.” Mull that over this Thanksgiving.