Listen to Science Not a Convenient Lie

Published: Wed 5 Feb 2020 09:40 AM
Dr Graeme Coles, an advocate for the dairy industry, claims that a plant-based diet is more wasteful and damaging for the environment than a meat and dairy eating one.
“This is at odds with all the peer reviewed science,” according to Vegan Society scientific adviser and former lecturer in environmental science Dr Michael Morris. “Comprehensive reviews in top journals confirm that the only way to feed a projected 11 billion people without further habitat destruction or pesticide use is if everyone adopted a plant-based diet.”
Dr Cole’s claims that nitrous oxide emissions and therefore overall greenhouse gas emissions will increase if people adopted a vegan diet is particularly ludicrous.
The idea is that vegans consume more nitrogen to get the same amount of usable protein as omnivores, and this is all excreted and then converted to nitrous oxide, a particularly strong greenhouse gas.
There are far too many variables to determine if vegans do actually consume more nitrogen but even if we accept Dr Cole’s calculations at face value and assume that nitrous oxide emissions would increase by 2.5 times if everyone became plant-based, the contribution this will make to greenhouse gas emissions is negligible.
“According to the Ministry for the environment 2019 inventory, sewerage treatment plants contribute only 0.5% of greenhouse gas emissions” says Dr Morris.
“Greenhouse gas contributions from the diet are far higher. Switching to a plant based diet diet will reduce these by up to 50%. Animal agriculture makes up 23% of the warming effect of emissions world wide, so this would amount to a considerable saving.”
“It is ecology 101,” says Dr Morris. “Passing food through an animal before eating it (sometimes two animals in the case of farmed fish), is so shockingly wasteful that a team of engineers would be hard put to find a more wasteful system if they tried.”

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