Meat-free diet can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by half

Thursday, June 26, 2014 - 15:45

A new study, published in Climatic Change, analyses the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the diets of meat eaters, fish eaters, vegetarians and vegans using the EPIC-Oxford baseline dataset.

It shows that the greenhouse gas emissions for a meat-based diet are approximately twice as high as those for vegans and about 50% higher than for vegetarians.

The study by researchers at the British Heart Foundation Centre on Population Approaches for Non-Communicable Disease Prevention and the Cancer Epidemiology Unit, both part of the Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford, looked at the diets of 2,041 vegans, 15,751 vegetarians, 8,123 fish-eaters and 29,589 meat-eaters aged 20-79 using a food frequency questionnaire.The greenhouse gas emissions of these diets were then estimated using a dataset of greenhouse gas emissions for 94 food commodities in the UK, with a weighting for the global warming potential of each component gas.

The authors concluded that "dietary GHG emissions in self-selected meat-eaters are approximately twice as high as those in vegans. It is likely that reductions in meat consumption would lead to reductions in dietary GHG emissions."

The study used data from EPIC-Oxford, a cohort study of 65,000 men and women living in the UK, many of whom are vegetarian, which examines how diet influences the risk of cancer.

Read the full article in Climatic Change.

Read more coverage of this story:


Photo of vegan summer quinoa salad by Jennifer on Flickr.

Share this article