Livestock are a significant contributor to food-related emissions. Meat and animal products generally have a higher carbon footprint than plant-based foods, with products from ruminant animals such as cows, sheep and goats having a particularly high climate impact. This is mainly due to the methane these animals release from digestion, a greenhouse gas which is 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide in terms of global warming.
Cattle also require large amounts of land for grazing or to grow their feed. This is driving deforestation in many areas, which releases more greenhouse gas emissions, as well as leading to biodiversity loss.
Poultry, pork, seafood and eggs generally have a smaller impact on climate change than beef and lamb. However, in many cases the carbon footprint of these foods is still significantly higher than that of plant-based food. Reducing your meat intake makes a huge difference to your carbon footprint, and can even improve your health.
Find out more about the environmental impacts of meat and plant-based foods from a recent study which is summarised on the Guardian website.
Cutting meat out of your diet really is much easier than you might think. Whether you want to cook yourself, buy something ready-made or eat out, vegetarian options are plentiful and colourful – there are healthy and scrumptious options for every taste.
Hubbub provide a useful introduction to how to eat a more plant-based diet. Their guidance covers everything from nutrition to products. Check it out here.
Cambridge Sustainable Food is an excellent resource to find more local information. Be it some vegetarian and vegan recipes or local businesses offering vegetarian and vegan options.
Veganuary have some delicious recipes, an eating out guide and more on their website.
More background information
A run down of great vegan protein sources on BBC Good Food.