According to a new study, eating a fruit and vegetable-based diet could actually be more harmful to the environment than eating some meats.
In fact, lettuce is as much as three times worse when it comes to greenhouse emissions than eating bacon, according to the research from Carnegie Mellon University.
The research was published in Environment Systems and Decisions and goes against the popular idea that no longer eating meat will help stop climate change. The idea is that foods like lettuce have a higher resource use and gas emissions per calorie compared with some meats.
Of course, the researchers did not suggest that people should simply keep eating as much meat as they currently are, or even the fact that livestock contribute to a massive proportion of global emissions. What they did find was that only eating the foods recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture increased the impact that a person has on the environment across multiple factors, despite calorie intake being reduced.
"Lots of common vegetables require more resources per calorie than you would think," said Paul Fischbeck, co-author of the study and Carnegie Mellon professor of social and decisions sciences. "Eggplant, celery and cucumbers look particularly bad when compared to pork or chicken."
In fact, if people were to cut out meat from their diets and reduce their calorie intake to the levels recommended by the USDA, their environmental impact would increase across energy use (38 percent), water use (10 percent) and emissions (six percent).
Source: Carnegie Mellon