Reducing the consumption of animal products is important because these products are more harmful to the environment than plant-based ones. This is because livestock farming needs high energy and greatly contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, intensive livestock production significantly adds to biodiversity loss because natural habitats are being turned into grass and feed crops.
The way food is produced may also affect sustainable diets, and one of the more eco-friendly food production methods is organic agriculture.
As a result, the research team aimed to investigate how various diets, particularly plant-based and organic foods, affect the environment. The research team looked at the environmental effects of both dietary patterns and farm production systems as well as the environmental impact of organic food consumption through an observational study. The team analyzed the food consumption and organic food consumption of more than 34,000 French adults. In order to identify the participants’ preferences for plant-based or animal-based products, they used a pro-vegetarian score. Moreover, they conducted production life cycle environmental impact assessments at farm level against three environmental indicators – greenhouse gas emissions, cumulative energy demand, and land occupation.
The team found that a plant-based diet lessened diet-related environmental impacts, particularly greenhouse gas emissions. Meanwhile, they also warned that the environmental effects of production systems are all different and can be affected by climate, soil types, and farm management.
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The findings of the study, which were published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition, suggest that a diet rich in fruit and vegetables, especially organic ones, is better for both human health and the environment in comparison to animal-based products. (Related: Organic Foods Provide More than Health Benefits.)
Benefits of organic food
Organic is the term used to define the method agricultural products are grown and processed. In the U.S., organic produce must be grown without using synthetic pesticides, bio-engineered genes, petroleum-based fertilizers, and sewage sludge-based fertilizers. For organic livestock raised for meat, eggs, and dairy products, they must have access to the outdoors and be given organic fee, while antibiotics, growth hormones, or any animal byproducts must not be given to them.
Here are some benefits of organic food:
- Organic food lessens your exposure to chemicals – Organic food reduces your chemical exposure as it contains fewer pesticides.
- Organic food is fresher – Organic food is also often fresher because it does not contain preservatives that prolongs its shelf life.
- Organic farming is better for environmental health – Organic farming is better for the environment because its practices involve less pollution soil erosion, and energy. Eliminating the use of pesticides in farming also benefits nearby birds and animals and people who live close to farms.
- Raising animals organically is healthier – In raising organic animals, they are not given antibiotics, growth hormones, or any animal byproducts. Feeding livestock animals raises the risk of mad cow disease, while the use of antibiotics can create antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria.
- Organic meat and milk contain more nutrients – A 2016 European study showed that the levels of nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, were up to 50 percent higher in organic meat and milk compared to conventionally raised ones.
- Organic food is GMO-free – Genetically modified organisms (GMO) or genetically engineered (GE) foods are plants whose DNA were altered in ways that do not occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding.
If you’d like to read more news stories and studies on the benefits of organics, go to Organics.news.