Meat-free diets ‘save the planet’
LONDON, Sept 11: Switching to a healthier diet can reduce an individual's water footprint by as much as 55%. According to new research, turning vegetarian has the biggest impact, but even cutting down on meat gives a saving of at least 10%.
"The main message is that if you shift to a healthy diet, be it with meat or without (vegetarian or pescetarian), according to your own preference, it's not only good for your health, but it's also very good for the environment in the sense that you reduce your water footprint substantially," said Dr Davy Vanham of the European Commission's Joint Research Centre, in Ispra, Italy.
The water footprint from food consumption (domestic and imported food) per person per day is 2,757 litres in the UK, compared with 2,929 for Germany and 3,861 for France. Switching to a healthy diet with meat (all food groups; based on national guidelines) would reduce water consumption by 11-35%.
A healthy pescetarian diet (meat is replaced with fish and pulses, animal fat is replaced with oils from crops) reduces water consumption by 33-35%. A healthy vegetarian diet (no fish or meat, oils from crops in place of animal fat) reduces water consumption by 35-55%.
"If you look at the numbers for the countries it goes to 3,000 - 4,000 litres per person per day; these are enormous amounts when you compare them with direct water use at home," said Dr Vanham. -BBC