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 three years of tracking. Source
  • Since August 2019, YouGov have been tracking Brits 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 three 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 2023 study from Oxford University found that eating less meat is like taking 8 million cars off the road. Source
  • A 2021 study from the Chinese University of Hong Kong and the University of Exeter found that meat production is to blame for 90,000 pollution-related deaths in China every year. Source
  • According to the Higg Materials Sustainability Index, which measures the overall environmental impact of materials, leather from cows is nearly three times as harmful to the environment as vegan leather, and wool is twice as harmful as polyester. Source  
  • In 2018, research found that meat and egg consumption contribute the largest share of food supply emissions in the EU, averaging 56% across all EU countries. This was followed by the consumption of dairy products which accounted for 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 cow’s milk produces more GHG emissions, requires more land and uses more water per litre than all plant-based milk alternatives. Sources: [1][2] 


  • 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 farming accounts for nearly 80% of greenhouse gas emissions from the agriculture sector. Source [p. 112]
  • According to a 2019 Harvard University report, reforesting farmland which is currently used as grazing pasture in the UK would remove over 3,000 million tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere, equal to offsetting nine years of current CO2 emissions from the whole UK economy. Source
  • In the EU over 60% of cropland is used to produce animal feed rather than food for human consumption. Source


  • A 2023 study from Sodexo found that 81% of students chose to eat vegan food when it's the default option on campus menus. Source
  • In 2018 the University of Oxford published the most comprehensive research yet into the impact of different foods. It concluded that moving from current diets globally to a diet that excludes animal products has transformative potential; reducing food’s land use by 76%, GHG emissions by 49%, acidification by 50%, eutrophication by 49% and scarcity-weighted freshwater withdrawals by 19%. Source
  • 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 a vegan diet is the most sustainable of all diets resulting in half the GHG emissions of 'conventional' diets. Source
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