In the United States, 7.3 million people are vegetarian and 22.8 million people are inclined to follow a vegetarian diet. (1) This past week research made headlines that the vegetarian diet could be more harmful to the environment than consuming meat. The study reported that lettuce is three times worse in terms of producing greenhouse gas emissions than eating bacon. (2)
Faulty headlines tout that lettuce is three times worse in producing greenhouse gas emissions than bacon!
This is another case of research being analyzed and reported wrong. Researchers behind this study report that this is a total mischaracterization of what they have found. (3)
In terms of environmental impact, not all vegetables are created equal. Journalists emphasized that lettuce produces more greenhouse gas emissions than bacon. These journalists compared two foods, but a vegetarian is not going to replace lettuce with pork! These journalists ignored that the researchers found that kale, broccoli, rice, potatoes, spinach and wheat all rank lower than pork in terms of greenhouse gas emissions! (3)
Journalists failed to report that kale, broccoli, rice, potatoes, spinach, and wheat all rank lower than pork in terms of greenhouse gas emissions!
In terms of fresh water usage, produce like cherries, mushrooms, and mangoes need more water than meat but peanuts, carrots and wheat use less water than non-seafood meat. (3)
The researchers of this study did not find that vegetarianism is bad for the environment, they simply determined that not every plant ranks equally in terms of environmental friendliness. If your looking for an excuse to forgo vegetables and eat more bacon, this is not it! (3)
The World Health Organization has reported that processed meats are carcinogenic and lamb, veal, pork and beef are “probably carcinogenic.”
The truth still remains that the World Health Organization has not reported that processed meats are carcinogenic and lamb, veal, pork, and beef are “probably carcinogenic.” (4) Trading out lettuce for bacon won’t help the environment and it surely won’t improve your health!