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Am J Clin Nutr. 2003 Sep;78(3 Suppl):660S-663S. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/78.3.660S.

Sustainability of meat-based and plant-based diets and the environment.

Author information

1
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA. dp18@cornell.edu

Abstract

Worldwide, an estimated 2 billion people live primarily on a meat-based diet, while an estimated 4 billion live primarily on a plant-based diet. The US food production system uses about 50% of the total US land area, 80% of the fresh water, and 17% of the fossil energy used in the country. The heavy dependence on fossil energy suggests that the US food system, whether meat-based or plant-based, is not sustainable. The use of land and energy resources devoted to an average meat-based diet compared with a lactoovovegetarian (plant-based) diet is analyzed in this report. In both diets, the daily quantity of calories consumed are kept constant at about 3533 kcal per person. The meat-based food system requires more energy, land, and water resources than the lactoovovegetarian diet. In this limited sense, the lactoovovegetarian diet is more sustainable than the average American meat-based diet.

PMID:
12936963
DOI:
10.1093/ajcn/78.3.660S
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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