Food demand influences agricultural production. Modern agricultural practices have resulted in polluted soil, air and water, eroded soil, dependence on imported oil, and loss of biodiversity. The goal of this research is to investigate the environmental impact of pesticide and fertilizer application, water consumption, and energy used to produce commodities for a vegetarian and non vegetarian diet in California. The working assumption is that greater number and amount of inputs are associated with greater environmental impact. The literature supports this notion. To accomplish this goal, dietary preferences were quantified using the Adventist Health Study and state agricultural data were collected and applied to commodity production statistics. These data were used to calculate the difference in consumption patterns between the two diets and indices to compare the environmental impact associated with inputs for the two dietary patterns. In addition, the results for the Adventist vegetarian and non vegetarian diets were compared to the production inputs for the production of an average American diet. Results show the Adventist vegetarian diet required 5.41 times less water, 2.48 times less primary energy, 12.9 times less fertilizer, and 1.4 times less pesticides than did the Adventist non vegetarian diet. The Adventist non vegetarian diet required 1.99 times less water, 1.82 times less primary energy, 2.10 times less fertilizer, and 1.43 times less pesticides than did the average American diet. It is clear that the production of a SDA non vegetarian or average American diet requires the inputs of significantly greater amounts of water, primary energy, fertilizers and pesticides when compared to the SDA vegetarian diet. The greatest contribution to the differences came from the consumption of animal products, eggs, broilers, and beef in the diet. From an environmental perspective, what a person chooses to eat makes a difference. Viewed form the individual lens, the difference in the dietary choices of the SDA vegetarian, non vegetarian and average American do not appear to support profound conclusions. However, with the added perspective of time and numbers the differences become quite pronounced and may have the potential for tremendously different impacts to the environment.

LLU Discipline





School of Science and Technology

First Advisor

Samuel Soret

Second Advisor

Ronald Carter

Third Advisor

William Hayes

Fourth Advisor

Joan Sabate

Fifth Advisor

Ernest Schwab

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded


Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Agriculture -- Environmental aspect; Agriculture -- United States -- California; Pollution; Pesticides -- Environmental aspects; Vegetarianism; Seventh-day Adventists.



Page Count

xii; 107

Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Collection Website



Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives