Pamela Martin is a geophysicist at the University of Chicago. She co-authored a 2009 study analyzing the environmental impact of an American diet based on meat versus a diet based on vegetables.
Pamela Martin: Right now the current mean American diet has 28% meat, but there’s nothing to say that if we all cut back to 10% that we would suffer nutritionally. And yet the environment would benefit quite a bit from that.
Martin’s study examined how much land a meat-based diet versus a vegetable-based diet would require to support Americans.
Pamela Martin: You need about four and a half times the amount of land to grow feed that you feed for cattle, versus using that land directly to grow food that we would directly consume.
Ultimately, Martin said, raising livestock requires more fertilizer and emits more greenhouse gases. These have environmental impacts.
Pamela Martin: We ought to be considering the health of the planet as well as the health of the people.
Martin believes a switch to a more vegetable-based American diet could have a positive impact on the environment.
Pamela Martin: I think the important consideration is to look at what’s on your plate each night, and try to make some changes.
Our thanks to:
University of Chicago
Photo Credit: Mr. Kris
Learning to love science. As a producer for EarthSky, Lindsay Patterson interviews some of the world's most fascinating scientists. Through EarthSky, her work content is syndicated on some of the world's top media websites, including USAToday.com and Reuters.com. Patterson is also charged with helping to stay in steady communication with the thousands of scientists who contribute to EarthSky's work of making the voice of science heard in a noisy world. She graduated from Colorado College with a degree in creative writing, and a keen interest in all forms of journalism and media.