We have been told, by the media, by the environmentalists, and by some of our vegan friends, that eating meat products will increase our “carbon footprints” and contribute to an already dangerous level of man-made global warming.

This message often seems focused on millennials especially.

Some proponents of drastic action to fight global warming, like former IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pachauri, are even calling for reducing or eliminating meat from our diets as a means to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, including that of carbon dioxide and methane.

But does a vegan diet really help us reduce GHG emissions?

Contrary to popular belief, a vegan diet actually emits more greenhouse gases (GHG) than, for example, an animal product like chicken.

How do we know this?

A study, from Carnegie Mellon University, was done to examine how growing, processing, and transporting food, food sales and service, and household storage and use take a toll on resources in the form of energy use, water use, and greenhouse gas emissions.

That study revealed that consuming more fruits, vegetables, dairy, and seafood — on the dubious assumption that man-made global warming does more harm than good — is more harmful to the environment than consuming meats, because those foods have relatively high resource uses and GHG emissions per calorie.

Paul Fischbeck, professor of social and decisions sciences and engineering and public policy, said “Lots of common vegetables require more resources per calorie than you would think. Eggplant, celery, and cucumbers look particularly bad when compared to pork or chicken.”

So if environmentalists want us to cut out meat to “save the planet,” are we now to cut out all other food too? Should we kill ourselves off to reduce our “carbon footprints”?

To further bolster their vegan myth, some claim that vegetarianism or veganism has strong moral foundations in eastern religions like Hinduism.

But is that so?

The myth of Hindus being vegetarians has been used widely to promote veganism and vegetarianism, both in India and elsewhere. Ignorance about the subject and various new age teachings have created a distorted image of the moral landscape surrounding veganism.

In Hinduism, only people belonging to certain higher castes within its religious hierarchy are prohibited from consuming animal products except milk. There is no general ban on meat consumption for most castes.

A survey released by the registrar general of India has revealed that 71 percent of Indians are not vegetarians. That’s a staggering percentage, given that more than 87.5 percent of the population practice Hinduism. In the state of Tamil Nadu where I reside, 97.65 percent of people eat animal products.

Chicken, fish, and goat meat are the most widely consumed meats. Pork and beef are the least consumed, with the latter being banned in some states recently. In the state of Kerala alone, 72 communities eat beef, and many of them are Hindus.

Hinduism is a complex religion which evolved over the past 2,000 years and was shaped by the cultures that existed in a vast geographical area. The dietary habits of ancient Indians included meat. Whilst beef consumption and cow slaughter have been controversial subjects in the country recently, there has been no resistance shown to consumption of other meat in general.

The quality, quantity, and variety of meat consumed have changed drastically over the past few decades, but the morality surrounding meat consumption has not. Meat consumption has been an integral part of the Hindu culture. Whoever has been portraying Hindus as vegetarians has no, or little, knowledge about the historic evolution of Hinduism, the various sects within, and their dietary practices.

Even if we were to dismiss the study on GHG emissions and assume that meat consumption increases the carbon dioxide emissions, there is substantial evidence that an increase in “carbon footprint” won’t cause any dangerous environmental damage.

In fact, the increases in carbon dioxide and temperature levels have helped the human race flourish since the “Little Ice Age,” which lasted between the 1300s and the mid-1800s.

No one has a right to subjugate people under veganism. There is no justification to impose veganism based on imaginary eastern moral values and false assumptions regarding carbon dioxide emissions being harmful to the environment.

People’s dietary habits should be respected regardless of their choice. Those who have embraced veganism for various reasons have that right. The dietary choices of meat eaters should likewise be treated with dignity. To hold them as morally evil is unjustified intolerance.

Your dietary preference won’t save the earth, and the majority of Indians I know don’t depend on a vegan diet to save their souls, either.