Meat-eaters produce more than double the greenhouse gases of vegetarians, study finds

The links between diet and greenhouse gas emissions

The differences in greenhouse gas emissions were also explored by dietary patterns, demographic characteristics, and World Health Organisation recommended nutrient intakes.

Researchers were looking to determine if less environmentally sustainable diets are also often more processed, energy-dense, and nutrient-poor.

The study found that vegetarians also had lower greenhouse gas emissions associated with cakes, biscuits and confectionery, reflecting healthier dietary patterns more generally.

Additionally, the research found that men’s diets produce 41% higher emissions than women’s diets, primarily due to greater meat intake, the study authors said.

“Meat was the dominant driver for diet-related greenhouse gas emissions, explaining most of the differences between greenhouse gas emissions associated with vegetarian and non-vegetarian diets, and between the differences in greenhouse gas emissions associated with the diets of men and women,” the study’s authors said.

However, drinks such as tea and coffee, and cakes, biscuits and confectionery, explained a quarter of diet-related greenhouse gas emissions, and present alternative routes to reduce diet-related greenhouse gas emissions.

The study also found that increased greenhouse gas emissions were linked with excessive levels of saturated fat, and lower than recommended levels of carbohydrates in diets.

“Those who met dietary recommendations had generally lower diet-related greenhouse gas emissions, suggesting future policies to encourage sustainable dietary patterns and plant-based diets could be good for both individual and planetary health,” the study’s authors concluded.

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