Skip to main content
  1. Blog

  2. Mar 16, 2021

Beans Versus Beef? Try This Climate Change Food Calculator

by Susan Levin, MS, RD, CSSD

beans and legumes
Photo: Getty Images

What’s the environmental benefit of eating beans instead of beef daily for a year? Or drinking almond milk instead of cow’s milk? This climate change food calculator shows how eating a plant-based diet can help you reduce your carbon footprint.

The BBC calculator includes the environmental impact—including greenhouse gas emissions and land and water use—of more than 30 animal products, fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, and beverages.

According to the calculator, eating 75 grams of beef—a typical fast-food hamburger—daily for a year contributes greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to driving a car 7,196 miles—that’s crossing the United States about 2.5 times. Compare that to eating 150 grams of beans—about a third of a can—daily for a year, which is equivalent to driving a car 93 miles.

Beans and Beef


Drinking one glass of cow’s milk a day for a year contributes greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to driving a car 585 miles. Drinking the same amount of almond milk daily for a year is equivalent to driving a car 130 miles.

Of course, choosing plant-based foods instead of animal products also helps fight heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers, and other diseases.   

The Physicians Committee recently petitioned the White House to recommend policy changes that could help alleviate the climate crisis—and keep people healthy—by cutting animal agriculture and promoting a plant-based diet.

To learn more about the impact of diet on climate change, register today for the Physicians Committee’s Plant-Based Climate Summit on April 1, 2021.

Plant-Based Climate Summit

Join world-renowned experts at the free Plant-Based Climate Summit to hear about how plant-based foods help fight climate change and improve the environment.

More on Environment