Give Now

A Moment of Science

The Twin Benefits of Eating Less Meat

fruit in a pattern

Emissions, healthcare costs, mortality rates, and habitat loss would all be reduced if populations ate more fruits and vegetables and less meat. (Bennilover, Flickr)

We all hear more about climate change now than we ever have before, but more information isn’t always useful information. Many of us remain doubtful about the most efficient ways to address the issue.

Research shows that health models and emissions models join up if people were to consume less meat worldwide, by cutting from their diet 2-3 portions of meat per week.

Some experts are skeptical of how much a reduction in meat consumption would curtail greenhouse gas emissions. They are quick to point out that livestock emissions only account for 4.2 percent of total global emissions, whereas the transportation sector contributes 22 percent of all greenhouse gas output.

Other scientists are quick to assert that a gradual shift away from our current overconsumption of meat would produce a compounded positive effect. Emissions, healthcare costs, mortality rates, and habitat loss would all be reduced if populations ate more fruits and vegetables and less meat.

Americans have to most to gain. Because health expenditures are so large in the U.S., healthcare savings associated with dietary shifts would be the largest of any nation.

However, in some developed nations, meat is likely to remain the principal protein in people’s diet. It may be unfeasible for people in these nations to choose a completely new diet; while people living in developed nations have many options beyond meat.

If you’re considering reducing meat in your diet, start by cutting out the worst offenders, processed meats: they’re linked to greater health risks.

Sources and Further Reading

Stay Connected

What is RSS? RSS makes it possible to subscribe to a website's updates instead of visiting it by delivering new posts to your RSS reader automatically. Choose to receive some or all of the updates from A Moment of Science:

Support for Indiana Public Media Comes From

About A Moment of Science

Search A Moment of Science