Healthy Meat-Free Diets Decrease Water Waste, Says New Study

While healthy diets use less water, plant foods use the least overall
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A vegan burger on a bun with salad

Healthy diets free of meat showed significantly less water use than those that included it

Healthy meat-free diets decrease food-related water use, according to a new study.

The study, published by Nature Sustainability, shared that a healthy animal-free diet showed a significant decrease in water use, versus a healthy diet that includes meat.


For the purpose of the study, eating habits in the UK, Germany, and France were analyzed.

Focusing specifically on 'healthy' diets, both with and without meat, the vegetarian diet showed a decrease in water use of 35-55 percent over a standard, or less healthy diet.

It said: "In other words, shifting to a healthy diet is not only good for human health, but also substantially reduces consumption of water resources, consistently for all geographical entities throughout the three countries."

A 'healthy' vegetarian diet outperformed a 'healthy' omnivorous diet with respect to water conservation.

Plant foods have been shown to use the least water overall

Plant foods have been shown to use the least water overall

Plant foods

While vegan diets were not one of the main categories of the above research, another study - published by the University of Twente - did examine the correlation between individual food items and water footprint.

The study placed dairy, meat, and eggs all at the upper end of the spectrum with respect to water use, and plant foods at the bottom - with fruits, vegetables, starchy roots, and sugar crops using the least water overall based on a use per a kilogram analysis.

Cereals and starchy root vegetables were shown to use the least water when a per calorie analysis was applied.