Climate Change and Meat Consumption — Eat Vegan

The UN's top climate scientist, chairperson of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, is suggesting that people should consider eating less meat as a way of combating global warming. The IPCC collates and evaluates climate data for the world's governments.

UN figures suggest that meat production puts more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than transport.

"The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has estimated that direct emissions from meat production account for about 18% of the world's total greenhouse gas emissions," he told BBC News.

"So I want to highlight the fact that among options for mitigating climate change, changing diets is something one should consider."
Source: BBC News

According to the UN Food and Agricultural Organization, total global meat production contributes 18% of greenhouse gasses, while total global transportation contributes only 13% of greenhouse gasses.  The largest source globally of carbon dioxide from meat production is land clearance, particularly of tropical forest.

According to Dr. Pachuri, people should have one meat-free day a week if they want to make a personal and effective sacrifice that would help tackle climate change, and should then go on to reduce their meat consumption even further. -- Source The Guardian

Meat eating is expected to double by mid-century.  This is such an easy and important step for us all to take.  It's something Jane and I strongly believe in and have blogged about a number of times (see More Reasons Not to Eat Meat and Vegan Eating Trumps Eating Locally).  I'm assuming most of the people who are reading this blog are vegans or are interested in veganism.  But this is a message we can bring to our omivorous friends and family.  Imagine the impact to the enviroment and the animals if everyone ate vegan just one day a week.


  1. Isn’t it funny how the evidence demands that we stop eating meat and dairy altogether, at least until we dramatically change the ways in which we turn animals into food. However, time after time, within the inner-sanctums of “new environmentalism” their prescription for action is tempered. In effect, the causes of this environmental degradation are given a tacit approval. Or at least agribusiness is said to be “Not that bad, really.” When in reality, this argument completely lacks veracity. Those who contribute to these reports know this – Al Gore know’s this – but they (and he) simply choose to not overcome the internal contradiction in their own arguments and findings.

    If they are all vegans, it’s reasonable to believe that they’re making a consequentialist calculation: Saying “Go vegan” will turn people away, therefore, the suggestion is less dramatic for practical reasons or something. However, Gore isn’t, and most, indeed the vast majority of the environmentalists I know, are not vegan or vegetarian. They are, therefore, hypocrites; internally inconsistent given their own premises and findings.

  2. Hi Alex,
    Yes, it’s really one of the more frustrating things we come up against. (And we keep blogging about our frustrations.) But you do make a point… most people we’ve talked to can’t conceive of the idea of giving up meat/dairy. It’s one of the reasons you’ll hear us frequently suggest that we of the vegan community, get others to eat vegan 1 day/week. Then they can see that it isn’t as difficult as they might have thought, and that some of this “vegan crap” is actually easy to prepare and tasty too.
    As for Gore, I’m not as enamored with him as I used to be. I’ve recently read some things about all this carbon offset stuff. (He sells carbon offsets, and there are no regulatory bodies governing how much of that money goes where.) And then there’s the size of his house, and his travel. It’s hard to be a poster-boy for a cause if you’re not behaving as you would have others behave. I do like that he was brave enough to stand up for the environment, at the cost of his political aspirations.

  3. Indeed, I have my issues with Gore, however, he has been passionate about environmentalism – warning us of the threats – since the early nineties. He has never wavered, although as you said, there are some rather problematic things about his lifestyle. My issue about eating meat really surrounds the entire environmentalist movement today.

  4. I read this recently too, The animal rights movement needs to pick up on this stuff more especially considering the urgency of climate change!

    Livestock and Climate Change
    by Robert Goodland and Jeff Anhang

    Livestock and Climate Change: What if the key actors in climate change are…cows, pigs, and chickens?

    The environmental impact of the lifecycle and supply chain of animals raised for food has been vastly underestimated, and in fact accounts for at least half of all human-caused greenhouse gases (GHGs),
    according to Robert Goodland and Jeff Anhang, co-authors of “Livestock and Climate Change”.

    A widely cited 2006 report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, Livestock’s Long Shadow, estimates that 18 percent of annual worldwide GHG emissions are attributable to cattle, buffalo, sheep, goats, camels, pigs, and poultry. But recent analysis by Goodland and Anhang finds that livestock and their byproducts actually account for at least 32.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year, or 51 percent of annual worldwide GHG emissions.

  5. Yet it’s frustrating that saving lives of animals, isn’t a good enough reason, for most people, to become vegans. Nonetheless, because people are threatened by the change of climate and feel responsible for it, they’re more willing to restrain their consumption of animal products and try alternative products. Our role is to make to expose them to good alternatives that will satisfy their needs.

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