No. Actually, they emit less! The University of Chicago recently did a study on carbon emissions that revealed a chain reaction that led to this conclusion. It takes 10 times the amount of fossil fuels to produce just one calorie of meat than it does to produce one calorie of a vegetable. It is because vegetarians severely reduce (or even completely eliminate, for vegans) their purchases of products from animal agriculture that this amount of energy is saved by vegetarians. So not eating meat can do a lot more than spare animals!
In terms of the literal meaning, oxygen intake and carbon dioxide release (the respiration process), the factor in question is probably body mass, rather than diet. In terms of lifestyle choices, however, it is well-documented that meat production requires the use of much more resources than that of non-meat foods. Thus vegan and vegetarian diets are more environmentally friendly than carnivorous ones.
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