It ain’t easy being green: Veggie-heavy diets bad for the planet, study says

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(PITTSBURGH) — Many vegetarians have been known to proclaim that their eating green is saving the planet, but a new study notes the opposite is true.

Research just posted from Carnegie Mellon University notes that “healthy” diets are bad for the environment. Lettuce, for example, is, “over three times worse in greenhouse gas emissions than eating bacon,” the scientists found.

Their study analyzed the “impact per calorie” of different foods, considering the energy and water needed to produce it, as well as the emissions spent shipping it.

“Lots of common vegetables require more resources per calorie than you would think,” said Paul Fischbeck, professor of social and decisions sciences and engineering and public policy at the prestigious school. “Eggplant, celery and cucumbers look particularly bad when compared to pork or chicken.”

While people losing weight has a positive effect on the environment, getting to the right weight might not.

“[E]eating the recommended ‘healthier’ foods — a mix of fruits, vegetables, dairy and seafood — increased the environmental impact in all three categories,” the results read. “Energy use went up by 38 percent, water use by 10 percent and [greenhouse gas] emissions by 6 percent.

“There’s a complex relationship between diet and the environment,” Ph.D. student Michelle Tom said. “What is good for us health-wise isn’t always what’s best for the environment.”

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