Plant-rich diet benefits environment better, finds new study. This is mainly due to the high energy requirements of livestock farming as well as the very large contribution of livestock to greenhouse gas emissions, said the study.
In addition, intensive livestock production is also responsible for significant biodiversity loss due to 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.
"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.