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Fight Climate Change by Going Vegan

The world’s top scientists, including Stephen Hawking, consider climate change to be one of the world’s greatest threats. Many conscientious people are trying to help prevent climate change by driving more fuel-efficient cars and using energy-saving light bulbs. Although these measures help, science shows that going vegan is one of the most effective ways to fight climate change. A staggering 51 percent or more of global greenhouse-gas emissions are caused by animal agriculture, according to a report published by the Worldwatch Institute. Additionally, a recent United Nations report concluded that a global shift toward a vegan diet is necessary in order to combat the worst effects of climate change. The United Nations has also said that raising animals for food is “one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global.” Climate change is largely caused by carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide emissions, in addition to water vapor, and raising animals for food is one of the most significant sources of these emissions. A 2013 Loma Linda University study found that vegans have a greenhouse-gas footprint that is 41.7 percent smaller than meat-eaters’ footprint and 13.9 percent smaller than vegetarians’ footprint.

Carbon Dioxide

Burning fossil fuels (such as oil and gasoline) releases carbon dioxide, one of the primary gasses causing climate change. Producing 1 calorie of protein from meat requires 8.5 times as much fossil fuel energy—releasing 8.5 times as much carbon dioxide—as does producing 1 calorie of protein from grain. Feeding massive amounts of grain and water to farmed animals and then killing them and processing, transporting, and storing their flesh is extremely energy-intensive. In addition, an enormous amount of carbon dioxide stored in the rainforest is released into the atmosphere when vast swathes of forest are cleared to provide pastureland and to grow crops for farmed animals, and manure also releases large quantities of carbon dioxide.

A British study found that typical meat-eaters who switched to a vegan diet reduced their food-related carbon footprint by 60 percent, saving 1.5 tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere each year. The study also concluded that vegans’ carbon footprint is 25 percent smaller than that of vegetarians, who still eat dairy products and eggs.


The billions of chickensturkeyspigs, and cows who are crammed onto factory farms each year in the U.S. produce enormous amounts of methane, both during digestion and later, indirectly, through the acres of waste “lagoons” that store their feces. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “Pound for pound, the comparative impact of [methane] on climate change is 25 times greater than [carbon dioxide] over a 100-year period.” The EPA data also show that the digestive processes of animals used for food and the  management of manure together account for more than a third of total methane emissions in the U.S.

Nitrous Oxide

Nitrous oxide is about 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. Nitrous oxide is released into the atmosphere in significant amounts when manure and urine from farmed animals break down. Another source is the nitrogen-based fertilizers that are often used in vast quantities to grow animal feed.

You Can Help Stop Climate Change!

The most powerful step that we can take as individuals to avert climate change is to stop eating meat, eggs, and dairy products and persuade others to do the same. Order PETA’s free vegan starter kit and do your part to start saving the planet and animals today!