The short answer is of course yes! But there are very few studies available to back up that answer and those that are available are either a thesis or from a small french study involving vegetarianism vs veganism and organic veggies.
On the opposite end of the spectrum when you google “Is Veganism Sustainable” you’re hit with a list of anti-vegan results with so called “studies” that when you dig down and look into it are all either funded by the animal ag industry or are just made up nonsense.
So why is veganism and plant based diets more sustainable? It’s an easy answer by looking at the numbers. How much land is used to grow crops currently? How much of those crops do we grow to feed “livestock”? and finally how efficient is it to grow food to feed to animals vs just growing food and feeding humans?
How much land is used to grow crops currently?
According to According to Worldbank.org, in 2016 37% of the worlds land area was used for agriculture both animal and plant. 11% of that land is arable land used for crop production (about 14 billion hectares). That’s not including over 30% of the land that was overused so severely for crop production that it is now destroyed and has become desserts.
29% of the world’s surface is land, and 71% is ocean and of that 29%, 71% is habitable with the remaining land being barren land like glaciers and desserts. Out of all the habitable land in the world 50% is used for agriculture with 77% of that land is used for “livestock” while 23% is used for crops. (According to ourworldindata.org)
According to Worldbank.org, in 2016 37.4% of the world’s land area was used as agricultural land while 11.06% of the world’s land area was used as arable land. Satellite images compiled by scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison show roughly 17.6 million square kilometers (6.8 million square miles) used to grow crops, with between 32 and 36 million square kilometers (12 and 14 million square miles) used to raise livestock (according to sciencing.com)
So what does this all mean? we are inefficiently using our land and resources to support heavy animal product laden diets with our environment paying the price for this unsustainable practice.
How much of those crops do we grow to feed “livestock”?
Livestock is the world’s largest user of land resources, with pasture and arable land dedicated to the production of feed representing almost 80% of the total agricultural land. One-third of global arable land is used to grow feed, while 26% of the Earth’s ice-free terrestrial surface is used for grazing. (Source: globalagriculture.org)
How efficient is it to grow food to feed to animals vs just growing food and feeding humans?
It takes 16 pounds of grain to produce one pound of cow flesh vs one pond of plants could feed a human one pound of food. This simple fact easily shows how much we could cut down the amount of land being used and continue to feed our exploding global population if we adopt plant based diets on a mass scale.
Add in the 2500 gallons of fresh water needed to make one pound of cow flesh and you begin to develop a picture of how unsustainable animal laden diets really are.
With the climate crisis becoming an increasing concern, with the starvation of over 20,000 people per day directly caused by animal agriculture, with a world literally on fire burning the amazon and the Australian outback we have a responsibility to change our diets, world, and culture to be plant based and sustainable.