The No. 1 reason to become a vegan — it’s not about your health

As Beyond Meat makes IPO history, Ikea unveils meatless meatballs and Burger King rolls out the Impossible Whopper nationwide, here’s a look at the increasingly compelling case for giving up meat and dairy forever


By Catey Hill, MarketWatch

May 7, 2019


There’s real meat behind this argument.


Plant-based foods are one of the hottest trends in the food industry right now. Indeed, within roughly a week, plant-based-meat maker Beyond Meat became “the best performing public offering by a major U.S. company in almost two decades,” fast-food chain Burger King said that it would roll out the plant-based Impossible Whopper nationwide and furniture giant Ikea announced that it would upgrade the meatless version of its popular Swedish meatballs.


All that may cause you to assume more Americans than ever are now vegan, or at least vegetarian, but you would be wrong. Indeed, a 2018 survey from Gallup shows that only about 5% of Americans say they are vegetarians, a number that is unchanged since 2012. Meanwhile 3% say they are vegans, which is up from 2% in 2012.


But there’s evidence to suggest that more people should consider these diets, particularly veganism — which shuns all animal products including meat, fish, shellfish, dairy, honey and gelatin — for one big reason: It helps the planet, a lot. According to a 2018 study of 40,000 farms in 119 countries published in the journal Science, cutting out your consumption of meat and dairy might be the single most effective step you can take to reduce your negative environmental impact on the Earth. One reason: We get just 18% of our calories and 37% of our protein from meat and dairy, but livestock suck up 83% of our farmland and generate 60% of the agricultural greenhouse gas.


“A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification, eutrophication, land use and water use,” lead study researcher Joseph Poore of the University of Oxford told the Guardian. “It is far bigger than cutting down on your flights or buying an electric car.”


What’s more, a vegan or vegetarian diet — or at least a diet with far less meat — might improve your health...


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