Contrary to popular opinion eating a vegetarian and healthy diet could actually contribute to climate change, according to researchers at Carnegie Mellon University. They say that following the USDA recommendations to consume more fruits, vegetables, dairy and seafood is more harmful to the environment because those foods have relatively high resource uses and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per calorie. The scientists, who published their study in Environment Systems and Decisions, measured the changes in energy use, blue water footprint, and GHG emissions associated with U.S. food consumption patterns.

Eating the recommended "healthier" foods, increased the environmental impact in all three categories: energy use went up by 38%, water use by 10%, and GHG emissions by 6%.

"Eating lettuce is over three times worse in greenhouse gas emissions than eating bacon," said Paul Fischbeck, Ph.D., professor of social and decisions sciences and engineering and public policy. "Lots of common vegetables require more resources per calorie than you would think. Eggplant, celery and cucumbers look particularly bad when compared to pork or chicken."

Poll Question:
Do you agree with the research team’s finding that a so-called “healthy diet” can actually harm the environment?



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