Energy Tip #21: veggie for a week

broccolli.gif“Eat your veggies.” Who knew that mothers everywhere were really advocating a low-carbon lifestyle? Many environmentalists and health conscious citizens have committed themselves to structuring their diet on vegetarian foods. Others, such as myself, have forayed from time to time into the no meat zone without lasting particularly long. Regardless of individuals’ reasons for going veggie or how long they continue their eating habits, however, one fact remains true: eating lower down on the food chain means fewer CO2 emissions.

According to, if you ate meat-free meals every other day for a year, you would save 487 pounds of CO2. Based on this figure, going veggie for one week would save about 19 pounds of CO2. Granted, individual buying habits (local vs non-local, seasonal vs. non-seasonal produce, frozen vs. fresh) will cause this number to vary. But across many web sites, the consensus seems to be that carbon footprints go down as you move down the food chain.


If you answered no or are a hardcore “megan” (recently learned this term, which means quite the opposite of vegan):

P.S.: Going vegetarian for a week doesn’t mean that the following week you get to double up on lamb kebabs, short ribs, and pork chops.

Last week 57 people pledged to straighten out the ducts on their dryer and empty the lint from their filter. Together this amounts to 11,400 pounds of CO2 saved.

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  1. SherryK - November 29, 2006

    I ate strictly vegetarian for 35 years (34,090 lbs of CO2 saved!). I have now added some meat back into my diet. My body type did NOT like the strictly vebetarian diet (Blood type O – check out the book Eat Right 4 Your Type)…so although it may be good for the planet, it may not be good for everyone’s body. I am currently eating about 5 meals a week with meat (out of a possible 21 meals) and my body likes it a whole lot better. Keep up the good work…I DO use your tips!

  2. philipwitak - November 29, 2006

    interesting information for certain – but wouldn’t the comsumption of more veggies actually add significantly to the human output of methane? and if so, wouldn’t that affect the environment in a negative manner and, to some degree, mitigate the benefits derived from less co2?

  3. Terry Dyck - November 29, 2006

    Plants act as carbon sinks. Animal foods create methane gas which is 24 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than CO2. Factory farms also pollute air, land and water. Much more fossil fuels are used to manufacture meat than are used to grow plant foods.

  4. Jenni - November 29, 2006

    I’m blood type O and have been a vegetarian (and eating vegan a few times a week) for 12 years now with no problems. I’m not sure I buy the hype from the “Eat Right for Your Type” book, but I’ve been wrong before.
    My personal belief system is that what’s good for us is good for the planet and vice versa. Not only is going veg great for reducing CO2, but also uses far less water, pesticides and land destruction (unlike rainforest beef, for example).

  5. janneyb - November 29, 2006

    i was vegetarian for most of this year, until about a month ago, when it began to have some side effects for me. however, i do believe in what it does for the planet and for our animal companions. outside of being slightly overweight, i’ve pretty much thrived on a low-animal-pro diet for the last twenty years, so i don’t think limiting myself to three days a week will be a great sacrifice.

  6. Chad - November 29, 2006

    It really depends on the meat. Beef is pretty bad for the environment – about 13 pounds of grain is needed for every pound of meat. However, chicken, turkey, and farm-raised catfish, for example, only need a little over two pounds of grain per pound of meat. Measured on a protien basis, these meats are fairly competitive with soy or other beans in terms of protein/acre.
    A diet with moderate amounts of poultry or properly-chosen fish probably has little impact on the environment relative to a completely vegetarian or vegan diet. This is even more true of the vegetarian makes up for their lack of meat by consuming more exotic vegetables and grains, increasing transporation costs.

  7. Anonymous - November 30, 2006

    Anything that causes us to stop and think about what we purchase and consume in any fashion is worthwhile. I’ve no doubt that technically being a vegetarian is better for the environment. I would think the basic premise has a variety of variables which would affect the CO2 emitted for production-transportation .. organic or not, local or not, grass fed beef vs grain fed beef & so on … also most vegetarians I know eat a fair amount of processed soy products that mimic meat & i’d guess while organic they require a fair amount of processing & transport.. not sure that just the straight advice of this article is enough. I think it is more complicated than just switching to a vegetarian diet. But again any additional awareness is great.

  8. Mike in Tampa, FL - December 1, 2006

    I’ve been a vegetarian for 5 years. I have type O+ blood and my body feels much better being vegi. I flush out toxins better, consume much less carcinogens, and I feel much better spiritually and emotionally that I’m not supporting the meat industry. ‘
    The methane argument is total BS. Vegitraians are not gassy. In fact, I had a friend who became vegetarian and was much less gassy as a result. Meat would kill his stomach, it’s so hard to digest.

    If anyone has a hard time being vegitarian or if someone is giving you s__t about being vegitarian, make them watch the movie “Meet your Meat” ( on this website: ). I have converted some hard core meat eaters with it

  9. JP - December 1, 2006

    I am an enthusiastic omnivore, but in July I started what i call a 5/2 plan and have more or less kept up with it. During the week I eat vegetarian, then on the weekends I allow myself to eat meat. I have found that it makes me more conscious of my food selection in general, and makes the occasional steak feel like more of a treat. It was easier than I thought and is on the whole better than just going veggie for a week.

  10. Johann - December 6, 2006

    JP, I am 2/3 vegetarian. I tried going 100% but it was too difficult and found myself going back to eating meat very quickly. So I decided to ease into it and eat 2 out of 3 meals every day veggie style. Breakfast is the easiest, then I just need to decide on lunch or dinner as to which I want to be vegetarian.

  11. Terence - December 11, 2006

    I’ve always kinda wished I were a vegetarian, and now you have given me one more reason to consider it.

  12. LS - December 13, 2006

    I read this bumper sticker which people may want to consider: “I’m a vegetarian. I saved many lives today.”

  13. Jewels - April 2, 2007

    I have been Veggie for 8 years now with blood type 0+ and it has been great for me. I think it is all about making sure you get the right nutrients your body needs without the meat part. I have had meat a couple times these past years but I try and make sure its top quality organic free-range animals. Its so hard to know what you are really putting into your bodies these days. I dont like the way aninimals are so mass-produced these days. Its just discusting the way they are treated and the altering medicines, hormones, steriods, enzymes and whatever else they give them to make them a certain way. Its not right.

  14. Pharmacy - July 31, 2008

    Above 35 you must increase vegetables in your diet… coz it decreases cholestrol level in the body as well as keeps the body fresh and fine like sun shine….

  15. snonarama - January 28, 2009

    I am 67 years old type O positive. Myself and none of my ancestors from India ever ate animal products and we have been none the worse for it. The only problem is that vegetarian protein is comparitively expensive (but at the same time it does include animal fat) leading to unbalanced vegetarian diet among the poor.
    I do not where these crazy facts come from.