Professor Gidon Eshel is an American oceanography, climatology, and geophysics academic best known for his quantification of the "geophysical consequences of agriculture and diet". As of 2017, he is research professor at Bard College in New York.
He studied physics and earth sciences at Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, before getting a Master of Arts (MA) degree, MPhil, and a PhD on mathematical physics at Columbia University. His Ph.D. thesis at Columbia was titled Coupling of deep water formation and the general circulation : a case study of the Red Sea. Eshel was then a postdoctoral NOAA Climate & Global Change (C&GC) Fellow at the Harvard Department for Earth & Planetary Physics, a Staff Scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, and also a faculty member of department of geophysics at the University of Chicago. Eshel also advises Bluefield Technologies on livestock methane emissions.
Gidon Eshel's early research found that the mean American diet that is rich in animal products such as red meat releases more carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere than a lacto-ovo vegetarian, poultry-based, pescatarian, or vegan diet. Compared with a plant-based diet, the mean American diet results in 1,500 kilograms of CO2 per person annually. He has campaigned against beef consumption as cattle grazing increases greenhouse gas production and negative environmental impacts such as wildlife displacement, soil erosion and damage to river systems. He has commented that "save going all-out vegan, the most impactful change that you can make is to ditch beef altogether and replace it with poultry—just beef to poultry".
Recent examples of his work compare several livestock and land and water use, fertiliser-based water pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions per factor unit of product. His highest cited paper is "Forecasting Zimbabwean maize yield using eastern equatorial Pacific sea surface temperature" at 445 times, according to Google Scholar.
In 2019, it was reported in the Scientific American that Eshel and his colleagues published findings in the Nature journal which found that "if all Americans switched away from meat, it would eliminate the need for pastureland and reduce the amount of high-quality cropland under cultivation by as much as 25 percent." His research has shown that by switching to a plant-based diet it would eliminate about 80 percent of greenhouse-gas emissions from agriculture in the United States.
Eshel supports plant-based diets and has described his own diet as "mostly vegan".