Cows in a constrained factory farm.

Plant Based For The Planet Climate Fact Sheet

A comprehensive list of studies concerning the role that the meat and dairy industries play in accelerating climate change, and the important facts found within them.

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Currently, we are on track to fall well short of the international community's goal to limit temperature increases to 2 degrees Celcius (ideally 1.5 degrees). Research demonstrates that unless "deep reductions" in emissions are made, we will be facing warming as high as 5 degrees Celcius by 2100. The key findings below reveal that plant based diets are a powerful tool to mitigate such environmental devastation.
  • Research featuring a massive dataset of around 40,000 farms, which tracks the climate impact of these products "from farm to fork", found that meat and dairy provides just 18% of calories despite using 83% of total farmland. The lead researcher commented on the findings, stating "A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification, eutrophication, land use and water use."
  • A society-wide transition towards vegan diets would deliver a 28% reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions across all sectors of the economy.
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  • Even if fossil fuel emissions were eliminated immediately, emissions from the global food system would make it impossible to limit warming to 1.5 degrees celcius, and extremely challenging to even meet the 2 degrees celcius benchmark. Therefore, the researchers conclude, major changes must be made to how we produce food if we wish to avoid climate disaster.
  • If livestock production remains unregulated, by 2050, meat and dairy farms will account for 80 percent of the budgeted greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Livestock accounts for more greenhouse gas emissions than all forms of transportation (cars, trains, planes, etc) combined. Livestock accounts for 14.5-18% of all human-caused emissions.
  • On a list of the top 10 most environmentally unfriendly protein sources, animal based sources occupy every spot.
  • Plant based diets are associated with the greatest reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and land use of any other food source.
  • Due to the demanding land requirements of animal based foods, a society-wide transition to vegan diets could shrink total agricultural land use from 4.1 billion hectares to 1 billion hectares. That's a 75% reduction in cropland — an area the size of North America and Brazil combined — to produce the same amount of food for humans.
  • Plant based diets allow societies to produce more food with less land. Currently, the majority of global cropland is used to feed livestock, not people.
  • Plant based diets allow societies to produce more food with less land. Currently, the majority of global cropland is used to feed livestock, not people.
  • In addition to the reduced emissions related to the food itself, the land that would be saved with plant based diets could remove 8.1 billion metric tons of CO2 each year over 100 years as natural vegetation re-establishes and soil carbon re-accumulates.
  • Land being destroyed for the agricultural industry is the leading cause of wildlife species extinction. The majority of this land use is done to achieve meat and dairy production.
  • Animal based products require twice as much greenhouse gas emissions when compared with plant based foods.
  • 20 livestock companies have surpassed the greenhouse gas emissions of Germany, Britain, or France.
  • In 2018, another environmental milestone was passed — the five largest meat and dairy companies have surpassed the emissions of oil giants such as ExxonMobil, Shell, or BP.
  • Even after accounting for the processing involved in creating plant based meat products, "every study to date finds that replacing conventional meat with plant-based meat substantially reduces every environmental impact measured." Plant based meat products use 47-99 percent less land than animal based meat, and emits 30-90 percent less greenhouse gas.
  • Dairy milk produces three times the emissions of plant based milks. In addition, it requires about 9 times the land and twice the water usage of plant based milk.
  • Over half of Earth's habitable land is used for food production. To contextualize this, we use 50x more land for agriculture than we do for all cities, towns and built-up areas — and nearly 80% of that is used to sustain livestock.
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  • In the scenario where veganism is widely adopted, researchers estimate reductions in global mortality and greenhouse gases caused by food production by 10 and 70 percent respectively. In addition, researchers projected 129 million lives saved and 8.1 million deaths avoided, as well as trillions of dollars saved in health care costs by 2050.
  • The current push for "net zero" carbon emissions by 2050 effectively requires the widespread adoption of plant based diets to be practically achievable. Researchers note that meat and dairy products "generally use much more land and water and create more greenhouse gases than plant sourced food" and demonstrate that meat consumption must drop by 79% and 68% in America and Europe respectively to achieve international emission goals.
  • Diets higher in plant based foods had a far lower climate impact than animal based alternatives. The report noted the high environmental cost of products that sometimes go ignored, such as dairy milk, which accounts for 20 percent of all livestock emissions.
  • Even a moderate consumption of dairy products can have large climate costs. Eating a single serving of cheese, just enough to cover two crackers 3-5 times a week, generates emissions equivalent to driving 514 miles per year that this diet is maintained. In addition, this seemingly "moderate" cheese consumption would require 47,259 liters of water and 740 square miles of land.
  • Protein production systems, led by the livestock industry, are the single greatest human-caused driver of deforestation and use of land. Plant based foods, both traditional and plant based meat products, poses a great opportunity to "reduce deforestation and free up land for regenerative agriculture and ranching practices, natural climate solutions, production of renewable energy, and protection for biodiversity."
  • High meat consumption worsens the problem of world hunger. Globally, 80% of all agricultural land is used for fodder. If crop production was instead directed to feeding humans directly instead of indirectly through livestock, "some 70% more calories would become available, potentially providing enough calories to meet the basic needs of an additional 4 billion people." Companies profit from the present situation, despite the fact that it is society that pays the cost of "the environmental damage caused by factory farming and the use of livestock feed."
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Key Data

Our current diet is terrible for our shared environment.

Animal agriculture is among the most damaging causes of carbon emissions from a single source. For this reason, no movement to heal our climate can be complete without an emphasis on plant based diets. .

28% Total reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions through a widespread adoption of a vegan diet.

18.5x More emissions for highest polluting animal based protein sources versus the equivalent plant based source.

20 Companies Selling animal sourced food produce more emissions than Germany, Britain, or France.

46% Of ocean plastic is fishing nets. The second most common source is also fishing gear.

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