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Vegetarian Eating Gets Complicated by New Climate Research

Imported fruits and vegetables account for an outsize amount of food transport emissions

Cooking Oil in Spain as Ukraine War Squeezes Global Supplies
Photographer: Angel Garcia/Bloomberg

For years now, climate-conscious cooks have embraced plant-based diets as a way to avoid the emissions-heavy meat industry. New research suggests low-carbon eating isn’t quite that simple.

The global transportation of food produces up to 7.5 times more greenhouse-gas emissions than previously estimated, according to a peer-reviewed study published Monday in the journal Nature Food. More than one-third of those emissions are generated by the international trade of fruits and vegetables, nearly twice what’s produced by growing them, according to the paper.