New Delhi: Going the vegan way will not just improve your health, but will also be a boon for our home planet, a study has claimed.
According to the study, a diet high in fruit and vegetables is better for the environment than one rich in animal products.
While veganism has slowly been catching on as a health trend around the world with some of the most influential people adopting it as a lifestyle, it has been a subject of constant debate.
While many previous studies have supported the diet's health benefits, there are a few others who have said that eating a vegetarian diet could actually add to climate change.
The new study, however, explains that the high energy requirements of livestock farming, as well as the very large contribution of livestock to greenhouse gas emissions, will cause harm to the planet.
In addition, intensive livestock production is also responsible for significant biodiversity loss due to the conversion of natural habitats to grass and feed crops, the researchers noted.
The study, published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition, also found that organic food provides significant, additional climate benefits for plant-based diets.
"We wanted to provide a more comprehensive picture of how different diets impact the environment," said Louise Seconda, a researcher at the Agence De L'Environnement Et De La Maitrise De L'Energie, an environmental protection organization in France.
"In particular, it is of considerable interest to consider the impacts of both plant-based foods and organic foods," Seconda added.
For the study, the researchers obtained information on food intake and organic food consumption from more than 34,000 adults.
They used what is called a 'provegetarian' score to determine preferences for plant-based or animal-based food products.
The researchers also conducted production life cycle environmental impact assessments at the farm level against three environmental indicators – greenhouse gas emissions, cumulative energy demand, and land occupation.
After combining the consumption and farm production data, the results showed that diet-related environmental impacts were reduced with a plant-based diet – particularly greenhouse gas emissions.
"The consumption of organic food added even more environmental benefits for a plant-based diet," Seconda said.
A vegan diet involves the consumption of all grains, beans, legumes, vegetables and fruits and the nearly infinite number of foods made by combining them.
It excludes the intake of foods that are produced by animals or animal-derived products like eggs, meat and dairy products.
(With IANS inputs)