The Rise of Plant-Based Diets and Its Environmental Impact

The Rise of Plant-Based Diets and Its Environmental Impact

The world is witnessing a significant shift towards healthier lifestyles and sustainable practices, with the rise of plant-based diets as a central discussion point. More and more people are becoming aware of the environmental impact of their food choices, leading them to opt for a plant-based diet which has proven to be a more sustainable and earth-friendly option.

A Growing Trend

The last decade has seen a surge in the adoption of plant-based diets, driven by increasing awareness about health and environmental concerns. According to a survey by The Vegan Society in 2018, the number of people identifying as vegans in the UK has climbed from 150,000 in 2006 to over 600,000. In the U.S., data from Gallup indicates that nearly 3% of the population is vegan, marking a considerable increase over the past few years. Moreover, the global market for plant-based foods is expected to exceed $74.2 billion by 2027.

What is a Plant-Based Diet?

A plant-based diet excludes or minimizes the consumption of animal products including meats, dairy, and eggs. Instead, it emphasizes on foods primarily from plants, including vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, seeds, and nuts. This form of diet is gaining popularity not just for its potential health benefits, such as reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke, and other chronic diseases, but also for its minimal impact on the environment.

The Environmental Impact of a Plant-Based Diet

Our dietary choices have a profound impact on the environment. Producing food accounts for about 30% of total global greenhouse gas emissions, with animal-based foods being responsible for the larger share of this impact.

Switching to a plant-based diet can notably reduce these environmental impacts. Greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced by up to 73% if the world was to remove meat from their diets. Plant-based diets require less energy, land, and water resources compared to diets rich in animal products.

Reduced Land Use and Deforestation

Land Use: Animal agriculture uses a significant proportion of the world's land. By moving to a plant-based diet, less land would be needed to produce food. This is because plants are more efficient at producing food than animals, and it typically takes less land to grow plants than it does to raise animals.

Deforestation: Much of the deforestation is driven by the demand for more land to rear cattle or grow soybeans to feed livestock. Adopting a plant-based diet would significantly reduce the demand for land and help preserve forests and their biodiversity.

Lower Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Raising animals for food is resource-intensive and produces significant greenhouse gas emissions. Livestock farming is responsible for 14.5% of all anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, according to the United Nations. On the other hand, most plant-based foods require fewer resources and emit significantly less greenhouse gases.


The rise of plant-based diets represents both a consumer shift towards healthier living and a collective step towards more sustainable food choices. The potential benefits of adopting a plant-based diet are vast, including fewer greenhouse gases, reduced deforestation and less resource use. However, it is essential that this transition be facilitated by appropriate support and information to ensure that it results in positive outcomes for both individual health and the environment as a whole.