photo by flako via flickr
We've covered the connection between a high meat, high processed food-based diet and climate change a number of times: Most recently on how meat and dairy production itself creates more carbon emissions than how we ship those products to market. Adding more fuel to this fire is a new report from Cornell University published in Human Ecology.
One-Fifth of U.S. Energy Consumption Goes Into Food Production
The study points out that considering that the average U.S. citizen consumes 3,747 calories per day—1,200 more than is recommended—and that 19% of energy usage in the nation goes into producing and transporting food, Americans in general should cut back on how many calories they consume, both for their own health and that of the planet.The report points out what many TreeHugger readers probably already know: Animal products and highly-processed foods require more energy to produce than fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
According to the author of the report, David Pimenthal, "By just reducing junk food intake and converting to diets lower in meat, the average American could have a massive impact on fuel consumption as well as improving his or her health."
Vegetarian Diet Most Energy Efficient
The original article in Live Science goes on the cite some more connections between eliminating or reducing meat consumption in your diet: According to study done in 2006 at the University of Chicago a vegetarian or vegan diet is the most energy efficient, followed by one that includes poultry. Diets including large portions of red meat (and presumably 'the other white meat', pork) and fish are the least energy efficient.
Report authors Gidon Eshel and Pamela Martin:
The average American diet requires the production of an extra ton and a half of carbon dioxide-equivalent, in the form of actual carbon dioxide as well as methane and other greenhouse gases, compared to a strictly vegetarian diet. Cutting down on just a few eggs or hamburgers each week is an easy way to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.