There are different reasons people turn to a vegan diet: for their health, the animals, and the environment. 

When thinking of ways to help the environment, we tend to turn to answers such as recycling, turning the water off as we brush our teeth, and limiting our use of vehicles. Actions like these are all in good practice, but their impact is almost negligible, especially compared to the impact, or lack thereof, of a vegan diet. 

A vegan diet may be the easiest, most significant way to reduce your environmental impact on the planet. To understand this very bold, sweeping statement, we must first explore the global impact of various food production systems. Not all food is created equal, and some of the most traditional staples in the everyday diet could be doing us more harm than good. 

First, we need to get a strong understanding of the omnivorous diet, which most of the population follows, to see then the differences compared to a vegan diet. 

Omnivorous Diet

Omnivorous sounds like a term straight out of the dinosaur era, but let’s not be intimidated by it. Omnivorous simply means a diet comprised of plants, animal products, and animal by-products.

The way we’re assessing the environmental impact of this diet is by looking at data from three main metrics: Greenhouse gas emissions, land use, and water use. There are more than these three factors are at play, but these three create the most significant difference, especially when compared to a vegan diet. 

Greenhouse Gases

Greenhouse gases are gases in the atmosphere which trap heat. Sunlight passes through the atmosphere but is then prevented from bouncing back out because the greenhouse gases (GHGs) create an invisible barrier that doesn’t let the heat escape. Some of the most prominent GHG’s are nitrous oxide (NO2), methane (CH4), and carbon dioxide (CO2). 

The production of red meat contributes to 23% of agriculture-related GHGs. Here in the United States, almost one-third of all carbon dioxide emissions come from enteric fermentation. (“Enteric fermentation” is the polite, mature way of saying “farts.”) This enteric fermentation is primarily from cows, which is just one of the indicators that builds a case for beef production being the worst of the worst when it comes to global impact. 

When we consider all livestock contributions, this number jumps to comprising 80% of all agricultural GHGs. “But I just eat chicken” is a typical response to hearing these figures around meat production, and there’s some truth to it; these harmful emissions are much higher for ruminant animals, such as cows and sheep, than for chickens or pigs. 

One study found that if the beef, pork, poultry, dairy, and eggs consumed in the average European diet were replaced with bread, greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced by over one-third. Of course, bread wouldn’t be the recommended replacement; bread represents any plant-based food. A diet containing meat generates substantially more GHGs emitted into the atmosphere, raising the earth’s temperature and directly fueling climate change. 

Land Usage

The farming of livestock, which is raising animals for personal use, uses one-third of the earth’s arable land. This is valuable land that could be used for growing crops. 

Beef, the main culprit, requires tremendously more resources than vegan foods do. For a single kilogram of the final product, beef requires 162 times more land and 18 times more water than plant-based foods. Livestock farming also uses much higher amounts of fertilizers and pesticides, which seep deep into the soil and contaminate groundwater.

Furthermore, raising animals to be slaughtered for meat production requires a massive amount of feed. Different types of meat have varying protein conversion efficiencies (the amount of food needed for the animal to gain one kilogram of weight). Chickens have the highest efficiency, at 18%, following by pork and beef at 9% and 6%, respectively. 

Compared to vegan foods, the amount of land required for animal-based proteins is 6-17 times higher. This land could instead be used to create more plant-based foods, as housing for animals, or simply kept in its natural state. 

Water Usage

The water input required to make animal-protein is 26 times higher than for plant-based foods. 

Livestock farming is straining our already low availability of freshwater. Livestock farming accounts for 12% of all ground and surface water use by way of irrigation. Producing one kilogram of crop requires 500-2000L of water. Producing one kilogram of beef requires 13kg of grain and 30kg of hay, which amounts to 105,400L of water.

Producing animal products is not an efficient use of our world’s scarce and valuable resources. 

Producing one kilogram of plant protein instead of one kilogram of animal protein uses 100 times less water. This is the difference between one shot of espresso vs. almost 4.5 liters of coffee. Choosing vegan foods over animal products would drastically reduce the world’s water consumption, thus avoiding water shortages and redirecting freshwater to more efficient uses. 

The Vegan Diet

Cue the vegan diet. 

What exactly is a vegan diet? Great question. 


A vegan diet excludes all animal products. This includes meats, fish, poultry, and animal by-products such as milk, eggs, and cheese. Some vegans further choose to exclude animal by-products such as honey because it exploits the bees. 

What do vegans eat? Vegan foods, or plant-based foods, as they’re affectionately called. Beans and lentils, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, and grains and tofu are everyday staples in any vegan diet. 

As we touched on at the beginning of the article, people choose to go vegan for different reasons. Health, animal welfare, environmental concerns, and weight-management are the most popular reasons for adopting a plant-based diet. 

A common misconception is that there must be an all-or-nothing attitude around veganism; people tend to feel that they can either be 100% vegan or 100% not. This is not the case. There are plentiful benefits to be had from replacing even some animal products with vegan foods. 

“Meatless Mondays” have gained traction in recent years and become increasingly popular, especially among the Gen Z and Millennial cohorts. This shouldn’t be too surprising considering that these cohorts are also the most concerned with climate change and sustainability. 

The vegan diet doesn’t receive much love or excitement from people. This partially comes from the fact that people don’t want to give up their favorite animal-product foods—which is entirely understandable—but it’s also because people have the wrong idea about what vegan food is all about.

There has never been a better time for vegan food. Seriously, it’s just as good and sometimes better.

Vegan Food

The vegan market has been exploding, and it’s a beautiful explosion. There have never been more products, options, and vegan food variations on store shelves and in restaurants. 

Think of a food, any food. 

There’s a vegan version of it somewhere out there. Milk, cheese, burgers, and even ice cream are all now vegan food, too. The best part is that these plant-based options are just as good and even better than the originals.

Any ice cream lovers out there? How does Cookie Butter ice cream sound? Vanilla sweetness, swirls of brown sugar, and cookie chunks so golden, you’ll feel like a miner. With a description like that, there’s no need to think twice about what is or isn’t on the ingredient list. 

Eclipse foods is one of the several companies recognizing the benefits to be had from vegan foods. Michelin Star and Rising Star Chefs are working hard in their kitchen to create out-of-this-world plant-based collaborations. This ice cream dissolves the problem many people have when it comes to vegan food: being able to tell its vegan food. This ice cream is so good; it’s indistinguishable from dairy ice cream. 

It’s companies and products like this that are showing people that there doesn’t need to be any sacrifice when choosing vegan foods. 

To Sum It All Up

If you weren’t already convinced that incorporating more vegan food into your diet may be a good (great) idea, here’s a list of more reasons why vegan food is actually awesome. 

  • Reduce global warming
  • Cleaner air
  • Saving water
  • Preserving forests and landscape
  • Protecting animal habitats
  • Avoid pollution of natural bodies of water
  • Avoid ingestion of antibiotics, HGH, chemicals.
  • Sustainability  

Our food system is broken, and our climate is hurting. Choosing vegan foods helps create a more sustainable, responsible, and humane food system, which we all benefit from. 

By making choices, like Eclipse ice cream over dairy ice cream, that replace traditional animal products with plant-based ones, you’re making an incredible difference. Acres of land, gallons of water, precious lives, and so much more can be saved by choosing vegan foods. 

Vegan foods have the least environmental impact when compared to omnivorous, pescatarian, and vegetarian diets. With so many delicious, indistinguishable vegan food options that are now readily available, it’s never been easier to make small choices that make a big impact.