Eat your greens, the rest are just side dishes

Meat, fish, dairy products and eggs are responsible for around half of all diet emissions, according to a new study by WWF Switzerland. Consuming plant-based protein is far more eco-friendly and emits considerably less greenhouse gases.

In its study on the greenhouse gas emissions of seven different diet styles, WWF Switzerland reached a clear conclusion: the more a person replaces animal products with plant-based ones, the better it is for the climate.

A so-called protein junkie with their heavy consumption of meat, dairy products and eggs is responsible for 2,350 kg CO2 per year. This is the equivalent of driving around 11,700 kilometres by car.

Vegans, in contrast, are responsible for half that amount: 1,124 kg CO2 per year, or driving 5,600 kilometres. To put this into perspective, the average person in Switzerland drives close to 10,000 kilometres per year with the car.

“If you enrich your diet with vegetarian meals and enjoy meat and dairy products only very occasionally, it does the environment a world of good,” says Christoph Meili, a life cycle assessment expert at WWF Switzerland.

This is shown in the CO2 emissions of semi-vegetarians or flexitarians, people who consume meat two to three times per week: their diets only emit around 1,495 kg CO2. As animal proteins are on average responsible for all diet-related emissions, the less a person consumes of them, the better it is for the climate.

But many people continue to be unaware of the environmental impact of consuming animal products. “To reduce our ecological footprint it is crucial that consumers become better aware of environmentally friendly products,” says Meili.

 

Image credit: Suzie’s Farm, flickr/Creative Commons

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