Veganism Could Do What?

November 17, 2017 12:02 PM
What if animal agriculture was eliminated and all of us became vegans, study asks?

Just in time for Thanksgiving, another study proposes the environmental benefits of veganism.

Virginia Tech researchers conducted an experiment to determine how lifestyle choices might affect agricultural emissions and food production. Specifically, they wanted to know what might happen if all Americans became vegans.

The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was based on a model the researchers created that eliminated animal agriculture from America’s farms, which meant all animal-derived foods suddenly vanished. They then calculated how such a change would affect greenhouse gas emissions based on the model.

The study found agricultural GHG emissions would decrease 28%.

A nice number, but those of us associated with the meat industry might pose some relevant questions about the number.

First, the 28% total agricultural GHG emissions decrease is only about half of what animals now contribute to the total. That means to make up for the lack of protein foods we would need to produce other foods – which have their own GHG impact.

Second, the study’s authors say eliminating animal agriculture would reduce total U.S. GHG by 2.6%. That’s not a misprint. Stop raising food animals and the GHG impact is less than 3%.

Not much of an impact if we all became vegans overnight. Eliminating animals from farms means no manure to use as fertilizer, and we’d need to find new ways to dispose of plant wastes that animals currently turn into milk and meat. Oh, and there’s those vast areas of the Great Plains and the West that can’t be plowed, but on which ruminants graze now. Yeah, those ranches disappear if we all go vegan.

But what about the actual food available under an all-vegan society. Here’s what the researcher’s said: “This assessment suggests that removing animals from U.S. agriculture would reduce agricultural GHG emissions, but would also create a food supply incapable of supporting the U.S. population’s nutritional requirements.”

Wow...“incapable of supporting…nutritional requirements.” Mull that over this Thanksgiving.

Back to news



Spell Check

Mike Kohler
Midway, UT
11/20/2017 09:59 AM

  Political correctness will damage society

Eugene, OR
12/6/2017 12:02 PM

  Honestly if you read the study you would know it wasn't in favor of veganism from the beginning. This study was trying to do as much possible by looking at environmental impact, economics, and nutrition. It didn't consider any of the environmental destruction being done by growing and feeding livestock. The misuse of the majority of antibiotics for livestock. The nutrition aspect is completely lacking. Vitamin A, D, B12, and fatty acids were reoccurring themes. Vitamin A can be met from eating one serving of sweet potatoes. B12 is supplemented in livestock feed. The fatty acids name are all nonessential, meaning eating omega 3 from plant sources will let the body convert into those fatty acids. Vitamin D is fortified in animal products! Vitamin D can be acquired from 20 minutes of sunlight or fortified plant based alternatives. "When nutritional adequacy was evaluated by using least-cost diets produced from foods available, more nutrient deficiencies, a greater excess of energy, and a need to consume a greater amount of food solids were encountered in plants-only diets." Least-cost diets from foods availible! Just unbelievable.


Corn College TV Education Series


Get nearly 8 hours of educational video with Farm Journal's top agronomists. Produced in the field and neatly organized by topic, from spring prep to post-harvest. Order now!


Market Data provided by
Brought to you by Beyer