Vegan Statistics | Veganism and the Environment

Environment and sustainability

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Please find below a selection of statistics about the vegan movement in relation to the environment, sustainability and vegan diets.  

Disclaimer: This is a collation of third party sources about topics connected to veganism. Some of the links are not to the original sources; we are sharing them to help journalists or researchers with their research and because they may form a helpful starting point.

Sustainable shopping habits

  • In August 2022, research from YouGov found 41% of Brits saying that sustainability affects their decisions on food ‘a fair amount’, with just 14% saying ‘to a large extent’, the same proportion who said ‘not at all’. Figures have remained fairly consistent over the 3 years of tracking. Source
  • Since August 2019, YouGov have been tracking Briton’s self-reported efforts to be more environmentally sustainable. In August 2022, 44% said that sustainability affects their household purchases ‘a fair amount’, with 22% saying ‘not very much’. Over the 3 year period of tracking there have been no notable shifts. Source
  • In 2021, YouGov published a survey on consumer willingness to pay more for environmentally friendly products. It found that in the UK, 57% of consumers agreed that they would pay more for environmentally friendly products, versus 24% of consumers who disagreed. Source


  • A 2019 Harvard University report proved that if everyone in the UK went vegan, we would still have enough food for everyone to eat. If the UK returned meat, dairy and egg farms back to forest and grew health-promoting crops for human consumption, we would be able to sustain human calorie and protein needs in place of feed currently grown for animals. Source
  • A 2019 Imperial College study found that your diet is where you can make the biggest difference, followed by travel and heating. It is unrealistic to think that people could travel less or avoid heating their homes – many of them can’t, but everyone can indeed eat a vegan diet. Source
  • According to the Higg Materials Sustainability Index, leather from cows is nearly three times as harmful to the environment as vegan leather, and wool is twice as harmful as polyester. Source 
  • The sustainability argument is often misrepresented as people think that just because something is made of plastic, it must automatically be the least environmentally friendly option; in fact, when you consider how much it takes to stop a piece of cow skin from decomposing, animal leather is right at the bottom of the sustainable materials list. Many people forget to factor in how much water and food the cows consume, how much land they take up, how much waste and methane they produce, and the amount of chemicals used in the tannery industry that harm its workers.
  • Humans around the world drink 5.2 billion gallons of water and eat 21 billion pounds of food each day. Cows around the world drink 45 billion gallons of water and eat 135 billion pounds of food each day – nine times as much water and seven times as much food as all humans. Source
  • If every family in the UK removed the meat from just one meal a week, it would have the same environmental impact as taking 16 million cars off the road. Source
  • In 2018, research found that meat and egg consumption represents the largest share of food supply emissions in all EU countries ranging from 49%–64% (EU average 56%), followed by the consumption of dairy products, that account for 16–36% of dietary emissions (EU average 27%). Source
  • A 2018 Greenpeace report found that “global meat and dairy production and consumption must be cut in half by 2050 to avoid dangerous climate change and keep the Paris Agreement on track. If left unchecked, agriculture is projected to produce 52% of global greenhouse gas emissions in the coming decades, 70% of which will come from meat and dairy.” Source
  • In 2018, research by the University of Oxford found that even the most environmentally damaging plant milk (almond) is better for the planet than cow's milk, as cow’s milk has a significantly higher impact across all metrics. In 2022, referencing this research, Dr Hannah Ritchie said "[cow's milk] causes around three times as much greenhouse gas emissions; uses around ten times as much land; two to twenty times as much freshwater; and creates much higher levels of eutrophication." Sources: [1][2] 


  • Animal agriculture is responsible for up to 91% of Amazon rainforest destruction. Sources: [1][2][3]
  • 77% of the world’s farmland (and 85% of the farmland in the UK) is used to graze farmed animals or to produce crops to feed farmed animals. Source 
  • Animal agriculture contributes an estimated 18% to total greenhouse gas emissions from the five major sectors for greenhouse gas reporting. For the agriculture sector alone, farmed animals constitute nearly 80% of all emissions. Source [p. 112]
  • Henning Steinfeld, Chief of FAO’s Livestock Information and Policy Branch and senior author of the United Nations’ Livestock's Long Shadow report, said in 2006: “Livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems. Urgent action is required to remedy the situation.” Sources [1] [2] [3] 
  • Avocados can be accused of having a high environmental impact as they have a total water footprint of 1,981 mᶾ/ton. When looking at animal products, the largest water footprint is from cow's meat (at 15,400 mᶾ/ton), followed by sheep (10,400 mᶾ/ton), pig (6,000 mᶾ/ton), chicken (4,300 mᶾ/ton) and eggs (3,300 mᶾ/ton). So avocados' water footprint is still less than the lowest animal product. Sources: [1][2]


  • A 2018 Oxford University study – which is the most comprehensive analysis to date of the damage farming does to the planet – found that ‘avoiding meat and dairy is the single biggest way to reduce your impact on Earth’ as animal farming provides just 18% of calories but takes up 83% of our farmland. Sources: [1][2]
  • A study published in Environmental Research Letters found that eating a plant-based diet has three times more positive environmental impact than washing your clothes in cold water; four times more than hang-drying clothes or recycling; and eight times more than upgrading light bulbs. Source
  • 32% of Brits believe the government should be promoting vegan and plant-based diets to address the current climate emergency. Source 
  • We can always be more sustainable in our food choices, but an off-the-shelf vegan diet is the most sustainable of all diets. Source
  • The average annual amount of CO2 emitted by typical UK diets:
  • Meat-eater – 2,055 kg
  • Vegetarian – 1,391 kg
  • Vegan – 1,055 kg Source
  • 82% of starving children live in countries where food is fed to animals who are then eaten by Western countries. Sources: [1][2][3]
  • A 2019 United Nations report urged people to eat less meat and dairy to help combat climate change. Source
  • John Hopkins University found that, on average, a vegan diet is the most environmentally friendly of all diets and would cut emissions by 70%
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