Shocker: Vegetarian diets worse for climate than eating bacon

From Carnegie Mellon and the “BLT’s must be carbon neutral then” department comes this story sure to strike fear into the hearts of vegetarian climate activists everywhere.bacon

Vegetarian and ‘healthy’ diets are more harmful to the environment

Carnegie Mellon study finds eating lettuce is more than three times worse in greenhouse gas emissions than eating bacon

Contrary to recent headlines — and a talk by actor Arnold Schwarzenegger at the United Nations Paris Climate Change Conference — eating a vegetarian diet could contribute to climate change.

In fact, according to new research from Carnegie Mellon University, 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. Published in Environment Systems and Decisions, the study measured the changes in energy use, blue water footprint and GHG emissions associated with U.S. food consumption patterns.

“Eating lettuce is over three times worse in greenhouse gas emissions than eating bacon,” said Paul Fischbeck, 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.”

Fischbeck, Michelle Tom, a Ph.D. student in civil and environmental engineering, and Chris Hendrickson, the Hamerschlag University Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, studied the food supply chain to determine how the obesity epidemic in the U.S. is affecting the environment. Specifically, they examined how growing, processing and transporting food, food sales and service, and household storage and use take a toll on resources in the form of energy use, water use and GHG emissions.

On one hand, the results showed that getting our weight under control and eating fewer calories, has a positive effect on the environment and reduces energy use, water use and GHG emissions from the food supply chain by approximately 9 percent.

However, eating the recommended “healthier” foods — a mix of fruits, vegetables, dairy and seafood — increased the environmental impact in all three categories: Energy use went up by 38 percent, water use by 10 percent and GHG emissions by 6 percent.

“There’s a complex relationship between diet and the environment,” Tom said. “What is good for us health-wise isn’t always what’s best for the environment. That’s important for public officials to know and for them to be cognizant of these tradeoffs as they develop or continue to develop dietary guidelines in the future.”

CMU’s Steinbrenner Institute for Environmental Education and Research and the Colcom Foundation funded this research.

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147 thoughts on “Shocker: Vegetarian diets worse for climate than eating bacon

  1. What this story really illustrate is how this absurd obsession with CO2 emissions leads to absurd conclusions. The dominant metric here is energy usage and CO2 emissions ignoring more important environmental problems such as water usage and waste disposal as well as moral issues such as cruelty to animals.

      • achuara, are you serious, you want it explained why the study, and this piece, are puerile? First of all, how many vegetarians do you know who munch away on lettuce? I’ve been vegetarian for 31 years, and I eat about as much lettuce as the average meat-eater. Study after study has shown just how much land is required, and the huge infrastructure that have to go into meat farming. Years ago, there was a very simple study that looked at growing a mix of vegetables over a few fields, the energy required, and the transportation, to feed a mythical small adjacent village. Against this was the idea of using those fields to provide meat. First of all, two fields had to be used to grow vegetables to feed the animals, and the single field that was left wasn’t large enough for the animals to inhabit. Then the study explained that the animals would have to be reared (huge costs in treatments and care), vaccinised, immunised, and fed, then trasported to an abbatoir, before being brough back to the village to be consumed. The costs and energy required to feed the village meat instead of vegetables soared way above and beyond that needed for the village to be vegetarian. Of course, it doesn’t really need a study to show this, you merely have to think about it. And of course, you always get the rabid meat-eaters who will take offence at any suggestion that the world might be a better place, and use vastly less energy. I’ve given up trying to make people see this, and a few neanderthal, knuckle-dragging comments here will tell you why. In the future the world WILL be vegetarian, it simply will, but I can fully understand why some people won’t accept that – it’s human nature. I don’t feel any different, any fitter, any better, for being a vegetarian. It’s just my choice because I like animals (more than I like people), but I don’t feel I have the right to tell people what to eat, it has to come about by consensus. It does make me laugh when I see people having a dig at vegetarians. Why would you do that, why would you care?

      • Baz, vegetarianism is dependent on so many special circumstances that it is difficult to describe. You can be a vegetarian, but only because of the enormous base of developed plant knowledge acquired by omnivorous, risk taking, ancestors. Humans can be pure carnivores at need. They cannot be pure vegetarians anywhere without a large prior knowledge base. There would in fact be no Native Americans were it not for our capability as carnivores . You cannot live as a foraging vegetarian in the arctic and near-arctic, nor even in much of the rest of the planet outside the tropics. Even today Inuit and Athabaskan people are largely carnivorous as an environmental necessity. Modern vegetarianism is completely dependent on civilization, on agriculture, and on the availability of a spectrum of plants that can fill nutritional requirements. One of the global observations of archaeology is the decline in body size, dental health, and general population health with rise of agriculture and an increasingly vegetarian diet.

      • Baz:
        So your rant isn’t an attempt to ‘tell’ us carnivores ‘what we should eat’?
        Starting off with your ‘bait and switch’ insult calling WUWT and the commenters ‘puerile’?
        Nooo, you are innocent of attempts to ‘tell people what to eat’; instead you only insist you are occupying the high moral ground while insulting us and telling what to eat.
        You really should spend a few years working a farm. Animals are not grown on ‘prime’ real estate that can grow crops, unless it is during the fallow year. Animals are raised on ground untenable for crops, machinery, or harvest. Even fodder crops such as meadow grass are grown on land unsuitable for human food crops.
        But, if you had actually worked on a farm, you’d learn that and more.
        If you really want a high bar, try living off only the food you raise.
        You also should spend some time reading history. Note especially the periods where famine struck down many. What else you should note are when isolated mostly vegetarian cultures began to eat greater amounts of meat; those periods make better health, stronger and larger physical form and advances in education.

      • @ Baz – December 15, 2015 at 11:48 am

        I’ve been vegetarian for 31 years, …..

        That’s shur nuff easy to do when one has unrestricted access “24-7-365-31 years” to a local supermarket or a variety of retail food stores. Urban residency is a prerequisite for being a “vegetarian”.

    • Just a couple of questions that have been puzzling me for some time. Firstly, is it morally superior to kill animals with a plough shear or combine harvester blade (sorry if not the correct terminology) than by stun gun? And secondly, how many animals are killed when 1 acre of land is ploughed?

      • Insects and rodents don’t count because they aren’t “cute”.
        Sorry, but cuteness is the measure by which a lot of people judge animal lives.

      • Want some fun? Ask a PETA idiot where and how they would relocate any rats that were discovered in their basement.

      • Not as many as one would think, unless the harvester driver is truly sadistic. Particularly slow or stupid critters will get killed, but many do escape. Combines appear to kill many critters like snakes, moles and voles; but combines do not cut at ground level, but above it by a few inches. All those rocks you know.
        Drivers of harvesters do see critters like pheasants, quail and rabbits and usually will slow down enough to let the animal come to it’s senses and scoot or fly. Besides, all of that blood spoils the crops that it covers.
        A lot of birds become real experts at diving it to snag a moving bug and zip out with their prize.
        Very few animals get killed by a plow or even by the disc harrows, these are the lethal looking ones with many blades used to cultivate the field so it is suitable for planting. Most of the critters take their cue from the plow and leave the field or dig deeper for awhile. Once again, drivers slow down enough to let slow learners to escape.

      • @ benofhouston – December 15, 2015 at 10:47 am

        Sorry, but cuteness is the measure by which a lot of people judge animal lives.

        Me thinks far more people judge the worth of an animal’s life based on the animal’s ability to “cry out” in pain and/or to visibly show fear, pain or discomfort.
        And that is exactly why no one, …. including the “animal rights” fanatics, …. ever complain about the killing of fish and other fresh water or seafoods.

        • Samuel C Cogar: my girl loves hamburger and bacon, but will not touch seafood. She loves spiders (????) and crabs are too much like spiders for her to be comfortable eating one. She calls shrimp “the kittens of the sea.” I don’t honestly know where this all came from (I LOVE seafood), but because they are “cute &/or cuddly” is EXACTLY why she only eats land animals.
          (Allegedly. I mean what dad REALLY knows the mind of his teen-aged daughter? For all I know it’s a complete act, but she’s perfectly happy & comfortable around big fuzz-ugly arachnids, so who knows…?)

    • cruelty to animals
      ==============
      The US grows something like 100 million turkeys each year. Imagine if everyone in the US was a vegetarian. The number of turkeys grown each year would likely be very close to zero.
      So in effect, if everyone switched to being vegetarians, that would mean 100 million turkeys each year would never be born. So the question is this. Is it more cruel to live a short life, or to never be born at all?
      Given the choice, if someone told you that your choice was to die young, or to never be born at all, which choice would you see as the most cruel? Which choice would you take? Short life or no life?
      So who is the more cruel? The person that eats a turkey, or the person that doesn’t?

  2. As the chewing of celery consumes more calories than the celery provides, it is net negative calories. The CO2 per calorie metric then goes pear shaped… Ban Celery Now! Do it “for the planet and the children!!”
    ; sarc>

    • I was thinking along the same line when I first read ‘lettuce’ and then ‘celery’.
      Then again, I do love celery diced for cooking; a mirepoix is essential for so many dishes. Nor can I fathom chicken soup without some celery seed among the flavors.
      Lettuce? Well, ‘Latuca virosa’ does supply soporific agents, per Peter Rabbit, that is.
      Commercial lettuce? Makes a good wrapper, but not much else. In spite of allusions to ‘rabbit food’, commercial lettuce gives rabbits diarrhea, and if rabbits can’t eat it for health…

  3. Ask anyone that has been on a diet! I have wondered about this since first head about the effort to eliminate beef and milk from the diet. cattle get all of their food from vegetables and make GAS. I was recommended to try a vegetarian diet to quickly lose 15 pounds Even the protein was vegetarian. The flatulence released while I was on a the vegetarian diet was unbelievable. Beno was no help. I had to abandon the diet to remain married. And think of the amount of produce one needs to eat to provide 2000+ calories. The most expensive diet I have ever been on. The increased farming effort would be staggering.

    • My experience is that after you make the transition from meat bacteria to veggie bacteria, and from low fiber to high, it calms down pretty much to normal. Going back and forth is the worst, gaswise.

      • Michel Palmer: I like your idea of a fecal transplant franchise. May I suggest the name KAKMASTERS.COM for the website? Sort of brings back fond memories of the now defunct Taxmasters.com who used to advertise endlessly on CNN that they could strike a deal with the IRS if you owed them money.

    • OTOH I lost 15 lbs in six weeks on a low-carb diet (doctor’s orders) in which I was limited to 90 grams carbohydrates per day, but could all the meat, fat, and dairy I could cram in. Beef was A-OK. Sugar and starches were the enemy, obviously potato, pasta, and rice but also sweet fruits, fruit juices, and bananas had to be carefully counted. So it’s not the “vegetarian” part that did it for you, f you lived on steak for a few weeks you could lose weight like water off a duck’s back. Oh, and on the low-carb diet my cholesterol dropped from 230 to 190 in 6 weeks.

  4. Eating lettuce is over three times worse in greenhouse gas emissions than eating bacon, … Lots of common vegetables require more resources per calorie than you would think.

    Iceberg Lettuce has almost no calories. That’s why it takes more resources per calorie. ie. Any resources used to grow and transport it are pretty much wasted.
    We have been explicitly told that we must not give the grandbunny iceberg lettuce because it has so little nutrition.

    • Agreed. Our Professor Lapin only gets Romaine or red leaf, when he gets lettuce at all. Mostly he gets timothy hay, with a side of either cilantro, mustard greens or parsley paired with a quarter-cup of Oxbow pellets, and the occasional dried banana chip for desert.
      The cilantro gives him super-fresh breath, and he likes it just fine, so there you go. Per a couple of entries lower down, he loves kale too… but holy smelling salts, Batman, if his box after dinner couldn’t wake the mostly-dead!
      For the record, he now gets no more kale than he does iceberg.

  5. OK, I’m officially sick of “studies.”
    Name ONE in the last 10 years that actually changed scientific thinking. Name ONE you can remember after a month, much less 6 months or a year.
    Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for pure research (actual objective research, that is). But this endless stream of little farts, er, studies simply isn’t headline-worthy. And most of them smell of political agenda.

  6. Good thing I don’t care about GHG emissions. Firstly if you are thinking about a veggie diet make sure you get your B12 & EPA/DHA (purified fish oil). Without those you are going to have serious health problems. Secondly I’m not giving up my green leafy stuff regardless how “bad” it is for the environment. High nutritional density, low glycemic load and fantastic for your health.
    Of course a lot of warmunists (I love that word, kudos to whoever came up with it) don’t want anything to do with high tech but there are farming technologies on the near horizon that are game changers for green leafy foods. A density and quality unheard of. The calculations are probably based on running the biggest tractor and shipping the food the farthest possible. Not that I care about CO2 as it helps the plants grow.
    http://www.digitaltrends.com/cool-tech/japan-automated-factory-lettuce/

    • I saw a show about a similar factory in Florida. It was not automated but it did produce lots of lettuce hydroponically indoors in a floating greenhouse setup. Quite amazing really.

      • Scotch, Russian & Lacinato. It’s a family thing like the mob 🙂
        Seriously try it stir fried with olive oil, garlic & pepper sometime. Even the kids like it then.

      • Well, my Shanghai born ladyfriend sometime stirfries me some lettuce, and believe me,,,, it’s GOOD!

      • They used to cook lettuce in Victorian England. I don’t know where this idea of salads came from. The Chinese think it’s crazy, and they are right.

  7. Surely the bodies funding this sort of crap can find something better to do with their money? Burning it would actually be more useful.

  8. Funny that should come up. Yesterday was my day to be bad and enjoy having a couple of BLTs. I enjoy a BLT day once every month to six weeks. My better half always says she doesn’t want any and gives me hell when I bring a pack of bacon home, but when I start cooking the aroma brings her around.

  9. I bitterly resent the terms “social” & ” decisions” being used in the same sentence as “science” & “engineering”! it’s a non-sequeteur!

  10. You don’t eat vegetables for the calories. They’re not dense enough in plant material, except for the sugars. Eat plants for the vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Proteins and fats are where the calories are.

  11. Attention Anthony, or MODS
    Why is that if I try to LIKE your page on Facebook, Word Press tries to change my home page ?? That is not a good thing and discourages people from LIKING your page !!

    • Hello Marcus.
      I noticed your comments on the last few threads. But no other comments, on any of the topics. Not like you.
      just curious.
      michael

    • I also have problems with this site. Browser is quite often redireted and can’t get back to this site so have to close the tab instead.
      According the Anthony he does not moderate this sight.
      Galaxy S5
      Android 5
      Dolphin Browser..up to date
      Lookout antivirus

  12. “..professor of social and decisions sciences and engineering and public policy. “
    Pretty diffuse subject matter! The new professions are getting butcher-baker-candlestick-maker-like in keeping with post normal principles. What kind of job could this guy get outside. Also, how can engineering get itself mixed up and diluted with corrupted and broken disciplines?
    “Oh, I’m a socio-political science decisions engineer. Keeps me busy. My brother is only a mining and mineral processing engineer and my sister is an aeronautical engineer – pretty straightforward stuff.”
    Okay, Ha ha. At least the nocturnal climate scientists are starting to come out into the light with the fear of persecution and professional death now waning. I suspect the climate scientists whose careers are less than half over will segue into a similar profession with the term ‘Wonk’ replaced by the more maleable ‘engineer’ to dress it up. Those over halfway, if they aren’t already struck down by climate blues syndrome, will, I suppose, just tough it out til their pensions.
    ‘Engineering’ has been pillaged before to dress up a profession. The success of engineers in space projects, the moon, planets in the 1960s and 70s even had science stealing from it. There is no such thing as a rocket scientist – ah, that would be engineering – certainly Newton’s work as a scientist was heavily drawn upon but when you make things that perform in the real world, that’s engineering, despite erudite essays on the subject I’ve seen to the contrary. Those old enough to have seen TV ads of that vintage will remember how dish soap was ‘engineered’ to be tough on dirt but gentle on your lady’s hands.

  13. Abstract
    This article measures the changes in energy use, blue water footprint, and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with shifting from current US food consumption patterns to three dietary scenarios, which are based, in part, on the 2010 USDA Dietary Guidelines (US Department of Agriculture and US Department of Health and Human Services in Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010, 7th edn, US Government Printing Office, Washington, 2010). Amidst the current overweight and obesity epidemic in the USA, the Dietary Guidelines provide food and beverage recommendations that are intended to help individuals achieve and maintain healthy weight. The three dietary scenarios we examine include (1) reducing Caloric intake levels to achieve “normal” weight without shifting food mix, (2) switching current food mix to USDA recommended food patterns, without reducing Caloric intake, and (3) reducing Caloric intake levels and shifting current food mix to USDA recommended food patterns, which support healthy weight. This study finds that shifting from the current US diet to dietary Scenario 1 decreases energy use, blue water footprint, and GHG emissions by around 9 %, while shifting to dietary Scenario 2 increases energy use by 43 %, blue water footprint by 16 %, and GHG emissions by 11 %. Shifting to dietary Scenario 3, which accounts for both reduced Caloric intake and a shift to the USDA recommended food mix, increases energy use by 38 %, blue water footprint by 10 %, and GHG emissions by 6 %. These perhaps counterintuitive results are primarily due to USDA recommendations for greater Caloric intake of fruits, vegetables, dairy, and fish/seafood, which have relatively high resource use and emissions per Calorie.

    http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10669-015-9577-y

  14. Worse would be “organic” veggies: to ensure pests are eliminated, “organic” farmers flood the land to drown the little critters and weeds, drain, plant the “organic” crops, harvest, flood, drain, repeat.

  15. Great story!
    Oh, I really hope this is true. All the organic mung bean and lentil scoffers will be choking on their vegetarian airline meals as they drift away across the globe from saving the planet in Paris.
    No guilt about the “pigs in blankets” at our XMas dinner this year!

  16. ” … for public officials to know and for them to be cognizant of these tradeoffs as they develop or continue to develop dietary guidelines in the future.”
    I’m okay with “guidelines” when they are scientifically sound and remain only “guidelines” – not morphed into becoming laws or becoming the basis for tax “incentives”, etc. Look no further than school lunch programs, more than half the food is being thrown away because kids refuse to eat it. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/school-lunch-fruits-and-veggies-often-tossed-in-trash-study-finds/
    “They found that while children placed more fruits and vegetables on their trays – as required by the USDA mandates put in place in 2012 – they consumed fewer of them. The amount of food wasted increased by 56 percent, the researchers found.”

  17. I emailed my kids the link to a report on that study and asked them if they realized just how green their dad had been all this time.

  18. Aaaaaaand it’s gone….another talking point of most greenies gone! Wonderfull.
    I wonder what our Dutch Party for the Animals (I kid you not) is gonna think of this, as they are oh so closely affiliated to our most ambitious Left greenie political spectrum.
    We have to eat MEAT everybody, to fight climate change!”

  19. I don’t usually respond to the “laugh at the veggie eaters” posts since the studies are too crappy, (and usually sponsored by meat/dairy interests anyway.) But I’m making an exception here in order to present the truth in a very short form. I’m not expecting many if any readers to accept what I’m about to say since people always like news supporting their bad habits. I think it’s important morally to let people know the truth, though, even if they ignore it.
    The fact is that the current obesity epidemic is caused by too much fat in the diet. There are diets which lower % of fat from say 40% of calories to 30% (these are the ones usually used as “low fat” when compared with “eating as usual”) but the ideal is about 10%. Also the base of a good diet should be starches. Protein should be reduced to 10-15%. That’s more than enough for growth and maintenance. Sure, take B12 if you go totally Vegan, but it’s the only vitamin necessary if you eat a reasonably large amount of veggies and fruit to supplement the starchy foods. I recommend Dr. John McDougall’s diet which I’ve been following for several years. I started implementing it when I weighed 280 and am now at 178 (actually I’ve been around 180 for a couple of years now.) Follow that plan, which BTW is free and requires no costly supplements or meetings, and you will not be hungry (after you’ve followed it a few weeks).
    Now back to the normal glorification of fat and protein.
    Dave Dardinger (M.S. Biochemistry, Purdue)

    • ” The fact is that the current obesity epidemic is caused by too much fat in the diet. ”
      No, it is lack of exercise !!

      • Yes, sorry the ‘too much fat in the diet’ theory has long been debunked. Fats are good for you, too much sugar is bad and can lead to obesity and inflammatory conditions. Too many carbs particularly processed carbs are the enemy.

      • Not really true. Sure you can lose weight if lots of exercise, but it takes a lot of exercise for just a minimal loss of weight and generally people eat more when they exercise more. And don’t get confused by the initial loss when you exercise which is mostly water.

    • The too much fat theory has been debunked so please do keep up. Too much sugar is bad for you is now the perceived wisdom of the health obsession is ts.

      • Sorry Janice, but the supposed debunking of fat is a prime example the sort of bad studies I mentioned. Could you post a link to a study you think debunks fat as bad?
        BTW, I’m somewhat surprised that skeptics here don’t seem to have applied their skepticism to this supposed debunking. I’m a strong skeptic of CAGW myself, but my skepticism includes other things than just climate.
        Also, too much of many things are bad for you, but sugar isn’t particularly a problem… except that the liver can produce fat from sugar, and the liver preferentially absorbs fructose rather than glucose (they’re interconverted within the cells. So if there’s too much fructose entering the blood stream, part of it will be used to produce triglycerides I.e. fats. starches, OTOH, breakdown in the digestive system into pure glucose which is burned in muscles and the brain, etc. It’s almost never converted to fat. Of course, sugar is a problem if your pancreas is compromised or you have insulin resistance. Insulin resistance, BTW is caused by fat clogging up the insulin receptors of cells. Lose weight and lower fat intake and the resistance will almost always go away, which will get you back to normal assuming your pancreas is still producing insulin.

    • IF diet is an issue it’s an overabundance of calories, specifically carbs/sugar which trigger an insulin response that tells your body to store the calories as fat.
      Pick any diet other than Vegan and you can find a culture that thrives on it.
      The ONLY thing that shows health improvements regardless of risk factors is exercise.
      There is NO dietary study that can prove otherwise because of all the confounding variables. Vegans/Vegetarians don’t live any longer than anyone else. It’s a tool for people to feel superior to others because they can put up with the misery of a diet like that.
      The following exchange says it all:
      “Wakey, Wakey, eggs and bakey.”
      “But I’m a Vegan”
      “Wakey, Wakey, vegetables and sadness”
      Eat your bacon, get some exercise, and enjoy your life.

      • Well, hot air, I used to eat my bacon, chicken, steak. That’s how I got to 280. Now I eat almost totally vegan (but I’m not a “ethical” vegan) and enjoy my life much more. I don’t know where you get the idea V/V don’t live longer, but I’d like a link which gives the details.

    • Let’s get a grip on reality here. In large part the “obesity epidemic” is caused by the deplorable tampering with the definitions of “overweight” and “obese” perpetrated in 1998.
      That said, I’m not a small person, but I am truly amazed by the mass of many of my fellow Americans. It’s impressive that they somehow stay upright and are able to propel themselves.
      In any case, the cause of overweight and obesity seems almost certainly to be due to consuming too many (kilo)calories and expending too few — over a substantial time span. There are probably dietary considerations in what mixes of carbohydrates, starches, and proteins are acceptable for each individual, and in many cases one suspects that more exercise wouldn’t be a bad idea. But in most cases, there seems to be quite a lot of latitude in the components of diet that will yield decent results.
      When it comes to diet, one size surely does not fit all.

    • That’s funny. As a diabetic I eat LCHF (low carb high fat), and have for 4 years. I started at 287 lbs. (I am just shy of 6′ 7″) and have been a steady 226-229 for 3.5 years. My bloodwork, done every 6 months, is normal. Triglycerides, cholesterol, A1C all in the normal range.
      Low fat is CAUSING obesity. There are 2 ways food gets flavor, base flavor, fat or sugar. That’s it. Remove fat, guess what gets added. For homework, walk around a grocery store and read the ingredients for anything that would naturally have fat that is labeled low or no fat. See how many ingredients you go through before sugar of some sort is listed.
      But then, I am just a dumb old truck owner/driver. What do I know.

    • Actually that’s not entirely true… fat is good for you but in moderation, despite what experts proclaimed. For instance, the “great heart-saver” Ancel Keys got the whole world suckered about his fat-hyptothesis and his studies nowadays turn out to be cherry-picked and skewed. When everybody started to follow his recommendations obesity figures soared. I trust climate people to recognize the scientific pattern…
      What I found for myself personally is that when I lessen the carbohydrates (sugars like starch, fructose/sucrose, and so on; specifically potatoes/rice/pasta/bread) in my diet I lose weight more easily and lasting than when I used to reduce fats to almost nothing (I even tended to GAIN weight then !!!). These days I eat mostly-carb-free on 4 days out of 7 and lose about 300 gr a week. And before someone bleats about excercise: due to chronical illness (CFS/ME and Fibromyalgia) I cannot excercise sufficiently so “starving” myself is the only option I have for losing weight. I typically eat 1500 or less kcal a day… and with carbohydrates still got fatter.
      My dear Mother has the best answer methinks: “Eat like our grand- and great-grandparents used to: only rarely what you like and always in moderation.”

    • David, the “Fat Proportion” has been completely falsified. What matters is calories, vitamins, and amino acids. The breakdown really doesn’t matter. Eliminating fats is one of the best ways to eliminate calories, and I’m glad it was successful for you, but it is not the only way in the least.
      However, I have to say something as well. The measurement (resources/calorie) is extremely biased against the vegetables listed ast they have such small caloric value, so they will never catch up. What about the staples: grains, beans, and potatoes? They are far lower in resources per calorie, which is why the poor eat very little meat and few fresh vegetables. Yes, a vegetarian can easily consume huge quantities of resources by eating fresh vegetables, but that’s not the bulk of caloric intake.

      • Dr. Lustig is primarily concerned about large quantities of HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup) and or sucrose as both are about 50% fructose. As I indicated in one message earlier, Fructose is absorbed by the liver and can then be converted to fat in the liver (actually cells have an enzyme which converts fructose and glucose and vv, so the enzyme which leads to liponeogenesis may well actually use icellular glucose rather than fructose itself.) Glucose in the bloodstream, however, is not converted into fat (for one thing it’s not sucked into the liver like fructose. Other body cells don’t produce fats from glucose and therefore a diet based on starches can’t cause obesity unless it’s also high in fructose or fat.

    • The obesity epidemic wasn’t caused by one single thing — there are a number of factors:
      1. The quantity of food (and drink) consumed. Too many people graze all day with snacks and sugary drinks. For main meals, portion sizes are frequently too large.
      2. The modern diet contains way too much refined sugar.
      3. Folks do not get enough exercise.
      Sure, we need to control our consumption of fats, especially saturated fats. But beware of low-fat products which frequently come with gobs of added sugar to restore flavor and satisfaction.
      The idea that fats were to blame for all of our problems was a myth promulgated by a multi-billion dollar sugar industry that wants us to consume more and more of their refined poison. They were very happy when their propaganda worked and shifted the focus from sugar to fats. And ecstatic when food processors started shoveling ever more sugar into the low-fat products that were flying off the shelves.
      If there’s one bad boy in this it’s refined sugar. But, of course, the reality is a bit more complicated.
      BTW, if you really have a sweet tooth, eat lots of fresh fruit but not juices. You need the fiber full the full sense of fullness/satisfaction.

    • Nice opinion. Though that is all it is.
      The human body is well constructed to handle meats and fats. The human body is not able to handle large amounts of carbohydrates.
      Excerpts from the ‘Lewis and Clark’ expedition note: “Each man consumed nine pounds of meat per day, when available…”. No reports of any Lewis and Clark members gaining weight.
      Inuit diet is customarily all meat and eating seal or whale blubber quite common.
      Many eastern European peasants considered eating pork fatback a treat. No it was not cooked first.
      European meat preservation; e.g. duck confit, made use of fat as an effective seal from molds, bacteria and oxygen. Nowadays it is considered a delicacy.
      Native American meat storage was similar, if more healthful. Native Americans dried meat, fruit and berries. They then pounded all three into a fine mixture that was then soaked and covered in hot fat; goose, duck, bear or whatever was available in quantity.
      Since the berries and fruits were dried, not cooked, vitamin content was not destroyed and the resulting mixture, pemmican, was very healthy nourishing Native Americans through long winters without ricketts, scurvy or other nutrient or amino acid shortages.
      Prior to the cholesterol and fats scam, Americans ate meats and fats in quantity. Lard and butter was commonly used and overweight Americans were unusual and overweight was usually due to lack of exercise. Still is.

    • Do a search for “French paradox” to read some interesting things about a rich and fat diet and health.

  20. The vegan agenda is basically an ‘elite’ (or central banking oligarchy) plan to deprive us of meat making us weaker, less able to resist their tyrannical one world government machinations and sick and dependent on big Pharma. There is also a psychological component of the diet that feeds into the ‘Gaia, mother Earth’ belief system they encourage via various social engineering methods as a trendy hipster religion and this encourages weakness mentally.
    In Feudal times the Nobility dined on a lot of quality meat while the peasantry ate mostly grains, potatoes and plants etc. They desire this again.
    Arnold Shwarzenegger is one of the biggest meat eaters around, as are all body builders and has a giant carbon footprint, what a hypocrite! They thought now who can we get to persuade the hundreds of millions of men to stop eating meat, an icon of masculinity and manhood, someone that has significance and sway in the muscle-meat connection, someone who’ll do whatever we say to maintain power and influence… I know!…..

    • Dude, I’m tapping out. Your post, along with genocidal accusations on another article just proves this is a wacko, Area 51 with a mix of white evangelical stroke cycles site that a former weatherman runs to make ad dollars.

    • Y’all, while LNeraho is being rude in his point, I think we can agree that conspiracy nonsense like this helps no one.
      There is no conspiracy to make people weaker. Come ON. That’s just foolish. They either think it’s for the best for people, best for the Earth, or are just looking to line their pockets through helping their investments. However, this is just lunacity, and it derails and undermines the purpose of this site by giving people a reason to dismiss us.

  21. Funded by the Colcom /Scaife Foundation. No bias there. Check your sources before you make conclusions. You may as well be getting diet advice from Rush Limbaugh.

    • Rush Limbaugh has lost a lot of weight and is now looking trim. Actually, he has been for several years. So yeah, getting diet advice from Rush would be a good idea, because he’s successful.
      Time to update your talking points.

  22. “Studies” like these are packed to the brim with unstated and unverifiable assumptions. Never mind that the entire concept of ‘greenhouse gases’ is flawed (the greenhouse effect only exists in the absence of convection).
    There is simply no reliable data on the “toll on resources in the form of energy use, water use and GHG emissions” from all the processes involved in growing, processing and transporting food, food sales and service, and household storage and use.
    The real conclusion is : “There’s a complex relationship between diet and the environment.”
    In other words, “More research is needed – please send money.”

  23. Regarding: “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.”:
    Celery and cucumbers require more resources per calorie because these have nearly zero calories. I did not see any mention of grains, potatoes or legumes. Pork and chicken require more resources including those needed to feed them per calorie than their food does, since they don’t hit the market with every calorie that they ate throughout their lives.

  24. Eating lettuce is over three times worse in greenhouse gas emissions than eating bacon, … Lots of common vegetables require more resources per calorie than you would think.

    I can’t quite believe how someone in this field can miss the energy chain part of the pig. The pig doesn’t live off nothing and requires more energy through it’s life than lettuce does. Never heard of the higher the food chain, the more energy it requires? What happens if the pig has lettuce in it’s diet because they eat everything? This statement about eating lettuce is simply not true.

    • It’s a numbers game: it’s on a per-calorie basis. The lettuce has practically zero calories, so the transport and water usage is divided by almost nothing. I would think that this site would have picked up on that before publicizing it.

  25. To produce “…1 kg … beef … require … 13 kg … grain (plus) … 30 kg .. hay … .” For water use involved figure that “… 100,000 L of water … (needed to ) produce …100 kg of hay …” & that would use “… 5,400 L (of water) for (producing)… 4 kg of grain….” Alternatively, in case beef is “… on rangeland for forage production, more than 200,000 L of water are needed to produce 1 kg of beef … ” In terms of poultry ” … 1 kg of broiler (chicken)… produced (needs) … 2.3 kg of grain requiring approximately 3,500 L of water (to produce)….” (data as per 2003 “Sustainability of meat-based and plant-based diets and the environment”; Free full text = http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/78/3/660S.long).

      • Journal of Animal Science,Vol. 74 No. 6, p. 1395-1405 study called “Ecosystems, sustainability, and animal agriculture” by a team out of Fort Keogh Livestock and Range Research Laboratory (Montana) looked at a North American cow-calfing operation & stated pasture raised beef needed 280 kilo-calories of energy from “tame pasture” to generate 1 kilo of “output” (meat on the hoof so to speak); while if feed on corn silage needed 617 kiilo-calories from it (as per Table 4).
        This 1994 study is available as a free full pdf if click on (left side) “view” ink to full pdf. It gives some very thorough data throughout the report & in Table 3 goes into “Inputs” of labor, machinery, pickup, transportation, fertilizer, pesticide, seed, irrigation, fence & water. The authors make a distinction where-by rangeland cattle rearing is efficient but once get into feed-lot things become more nuanced.

  26. How does this research impact on bio fuels (bio ethanol, bio diesel etc)?
    Surely bio fuels are very resource intensive, using fertilisers and irrigation, and of course, fossil fuels to plant, harvest and convert etc.
    Are bio fuels really more carbon neutral?
    Anyone got any views and knowledge on the subject.

    • Yep, the resources required for biofuels are indeed an issue. Corn ethanol is especially awful because there is also a distillation step used to extract a usable fuel from the corn beer created by fermentation of corn. There is a spectrum here from use of used frying oil as a fuel at one end to corn ethanol produced on marginal land with poor yields at the other Burning (filtered) used frying oil in a diesel engine seems like a perfectly OK idea. But how many gallons of cooking oil can even America produce? Corn ethanol? Pretty much a complex ag-subsidy. Not gonna save the planet with that stuff.
      (BTW, the poor net return of green energy from corn ethanol was predicted in advance. The predictions were ignored by the G W Bush administration).

  27. It no longer matters because the Paris Climate Agreement has stopped climate change for now and for all time.

    • …..harmful to the environment because those foods have relatively high resource uses and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per calorie.

      It matters what the pigs are eating because all resource uses in the food chain use greenhouse gas emissions and are also added to the pigs emissions per calorie. (not taken into account here when it must) Therefore huge amounts of calories are lost through the pigs lives as product waste. Simply the higher up the food chain the more calorie waste in the species, that is not there in the end product.

      • Many pigs, indeed most pigs raised commercially, are fed food waste from nearby urban areas.
        Pigs make for a very efficient food resource.

  28. Carnegie Mellon study finds eating lettuce is more than three times worse in greenhouse gas emissions than eating bacon

    Some Indian holy men claim they do not need any nourishment but sunshine. That’s the ultimate solution: eat neither lettuce nor bacon.
    A Hungarian metallurgical engineer, after visiting India, took it rather seriously and he also convinced his wife. When finally grandma tried to enter their apartment, unsuccessfully, and the only sound she heard was whining of a 2 years old baby daughter, she called the authorities. The wife perished, after a miscarriage with her second child, born dead, but the husband was at such a high spiritual stage by that time, that he failed to notice it. Their daughter survived, barely, she had 72 hours left according to doctors, at most, with weight of a 6 months old.
    That’s how carbon neutral they went.

    • They only went carbon neutral if they didn’t decompose.
      Cemeteries should be equipped to capture decomposition gases.

  29. Why is it always that this kind of story is presented with a sense of glee? Is it really such a bad thing to be vegetarian or vegan in order to reduce suffering in the world? No-one in a Western society particularly needs to eat meat, and a vegan or vegetarian diet can be quite varied and just as tasty. The problem is that modern farming industrialises food production and generates enormous suffering by sentient creatures for fat Westerners to leave half eaten bacon burgers at the local Maccas, or endless celeb chefs to extol the virtues of this or that meat-based dish.
    The bottom line is that large numbers of humans will always impact the natural world, so we can’t create a perfect world. Of course. But we can stop the abhorrent practices of mass production farming and the horrible treatment of animals that brings with it. Sure, maybe some animals are killed in ploughing land, or driving cars, or mowing the back lawn. That’s how it is, but we can work to reduce even that impact. However we can make a HUGE difference by not choosing to eat meat and supporting the torture and killing of literally billions of fellow animals every year.
    In my view, the whole environmental impact/CO2 thing is a bit of a red herring. It may or may not be an issue. The real issue is simply compassion. Why exactly do people think this is so bad, and why do they think the argument against compassion is because they like a taste? Seems a pretty trivial reason to me.

    • Beheading &. enslaving human beings is an even more abhorrent practice, than slaughtering animals, by a wide margin.
      Bottom line is, we have a somewhat more immediate problem at hand, so please try not to preach your vegetarian creed for the time being.

    • The glee stems from the fact that the holier-than-now AGW brigade told us to eat veggies because meat production created more CO2 which would cook the planet. As usual, it turns out they were wrong!
      Excuse our smug satisfaction but these self-righteous hypocrites have been wrong so often we really to have to laugh at them.

    • “…large numbers of humans will always impact the natural world, so we can’t create a perfect world” seems to imply that human beings exist outside or as a separate thing from the natural world. This is certainly not the case; there is no real dichotomy between humanity and nature.
      Not completely sure what you mean by perfect, either, since the world is constantly evolving. Change is the only constant in the universe, as the old adage goes.

  30. Mike Smith, agree that IS an amusing twist. Berényi Péter… what on earth are you talking about? Beheading people? What does that have to do with this post?

  31. I admit it, I used to be somewhat of a skeptic. But when I found out that by eating more bacon I could save the planet, all I can say is count me in!

  32. David46 – “The fact is that the current obesity epidemic is caused by too much fat in the diet.”
    ====================
    Any evidence for that?
    * * * * * * * * *
    “Recent studies by the anthropologist Neville White and the biochemist Kerin O’Dea have shown that populations pursuing a traditional way of life in the North Arnhemland region of Australia are extraordinarily healthy and surprisingly free from stress and diet-related diseases, despite being much leaner than the official WHO guidelines recommend. What makes this especially surprising is that the Aboriginals make a culinary specialty out of fats: their favored animal parts are just those that are known to be highest in cholesterol, namely the liver, the main fat depots and the brain. The Aboriginals show a fine-tuned appreciation of the habits of the animal species they hunt: they know exactly when during the year a species’ natural fat-cycle is at its peak, and only then do they pursue that species.”
    –Robin Dunbar, The Trouble with Science, (1995) p. 48.
    * * * * * * * * * *
    Something else to think about…
    Bottom line: when we eat fat, we are eating something that is an awful lot like diesel fuel.
    http://blogs.howstuffworks.com/2009/09/01/how-omega-3-fatty-acids-work/

    • Of course there’s evidence. Groups such as Okinawa natives have the highest % of centenarians despite only eating a few % of animal products. Seventh Day Adventists in California (who are mostly vegans) live 10+ years longer than other Californians.
      As for this Aboriginal group, what is their average life expectancy? And what % of their diet is animal products? Oh, and what is their actual caloric intake?

    • You switched from obesity to longevity.
      re: longevity:
      “It is true Japan holds the [longevity] record at the moment, but if you go back a little it was Sweden or New Zealand.”
      http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/jun/19/japanese-diet-live-to-100
      re: obesity:
      http://authoritynutrition.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/low-fat-guidelines.jpg
      (Source: National Center for Health Statistics (US). Health, United States, 2008: With Special Feature on the Health of Young Adults. Hyattsville (MD): National Center for Health Statistics (US); 2009 Mar. Chartbook.)
      from 6 Graphs That Show Why The “War” on Fat Was a Huge Mistake, includes links to the studies and data.

      • This was the 1949 Okinawan diet of 2,279 people according to the following data in the U.S. National Archives. As per “Caloric Restriction, the Traditional Okinawan Diet, and Healthy Aging, The Diet of the World’s Longest-Lived People and Its Potential Impact on Morbidity and Life Span” published in (2007) Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci. 1114. … (quote) TABLE 1. Traditional dietary intake of Okinawans and other Japanese circa 1950″ =
        Total calories 1785;
        Total weight (grams) 1262;
        Caloric density (calories/gram) 1.4;
        Total protein in grams (% total calories) 39;
        Total carbohydrate in grams (% total calories) 382;
        Total fat in grams (% total calories) 12;
        … (subcategory)
        Food group Weight in grams (% total calories) =
        Grains: Rice 154, Wheat, barley, and other grains 38;
        Nuts, seeds Less than 1;
        Sugars 3;
        Oils 3;
        Legumes ( soy and other beans) 71 ;
        Fish 15;
        Meat (including poultry) 3;
        Eggs 1;
        Dairy less than 1;
        Vegetables: Sweet potatoes 849, Other potatoes 2;
        Other vegetables 114;
        Fruit less than 1;
        Seaweed 1;
        Pickled vegetables 0;
        Flavors & alcohol 7 …

  33. One of my all time favourite Homer Simpson quotes;
    ““(Lisa) “I’m going to become a vegetarian” (Homer) “Does that mean you’re not going to eat any pork?” “Yes” “Bacon?” “Yes Dad” Ham?” “Dad all those meats come from the same animal” “Right Lisa, some wonderful, magical animal!”””

  34. Neither. Carbondioxide is not an important climate driver and Methane even less so. Hence whatever food production means in terms of CO2 or CH4 production is irrelevant.

  35. MMmmm Bacon! Just the smell of it’s enough to wake the dead!
    & then there’s Ribs and Pork Belly and Ham and Roast Pork with Crackling MMmm!
    Lettuce? Well yes I eat a token amount 🙂

  36. If reporters had been as concerned with responsible journalism as they were with creating click-bait headlines, they would have mentioned the fact that because lettuce has basically no calories, you would have to produce tons and tons of it to equal the calories in just a tiny snippet of animal flesh, and obviously, producing many, many heads of lettuce is going to require a lot of energy. Most plant foods are still far less taxing to the environment than growing all those plants then feeding loads of them to animals for months to produce a comparatively small amount of meat along with a great amount of methane and waste.

  37. re ATheoK December 15, 2015 at 7:55 pm
    Yes, it is not animals that utilise “prime real estate” but rather it is humans as the concrete jungle of suburbia expands completely obliterating some of the most fertile and productive farmland around that previously had the capacity to feed the entire city, and far beyond.

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