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Apr 1, 2010

Study: Vegan Only Diet May Not Reduce Greenhouse Emissions

On 1 April 2010, ScienceDaily reviewed a 2009 article in the journal Progress in Industrial Ecology that concluded that the widesperad adoption of a vegan diet would only reduce global greenhouse emissions by 7%.  Adoption of an organic diet in fact increases greenhouse gas emissions.

The original article, entitled "Dietary Choices and Greenhouse Gas Emissions -- Assessment of Impact of Vegetarian and Organic Options at National Scale," was written by Helmi Risku-Norja and Sirpa Kurppa of MTT Agrifood Research Finland, working with Juha Helenius of the Department of Agricultural Sciences, University of Helsinki. 

Their main conclusion was that "the cultivation of soil for whatever purpose, whether growing crops or raising livestock is the primary source of greenhouse gas emissions in food production, not fertiliser production, animal husbandry, nor agricultural energy requirements."  Looking at Finland, emissions totalled:

* soil = 62%
* gases released by cows and sheep = 24%
* energy consumption = 8%
* fertiliser manufacture = 8%

Organic agriculture generated more greenhouse emissions because it required "the cultivation of greater areas of soil, which counteracts many of the benefits."

For more see: : "Green Food Choice May Not Be So Green," ScienceDaily, 1 April 2010.

Helmi Risku-Norja, Sirpa Kurppa, Juha Helenius. Dietary choices and greenhouse gas emissions -- assessment of impact of vegetarian and organic options at national scale. Progress in Industrial Ecology An International Journal, 2009; 6 (4)

About Margaret

CEO and Curator (The Food Museum) | Managing Director and Chief Editor (GR2 Global LLC) | Educator (UCLA PhD) | Researching and writing on global food issues, nutrition and health, sustainability, history (preservation), conservation (natural resources), and design.
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