Livestock are a significant contributor to food-related emissions. Meat, cheese 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 and dairy intake makes a big difference to your carbon footprint, and can even improve your health!
Find out more about the environmental impacts of meat, dairy and plant-based foods from a recent study which is summarised on the Guardian website.
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Cutting animal products out of your diet may seem like a hard thing to do, but really is much easier than you might think. Whether you want to cook yourself, buy something ready-made or eat out, vegan options are plentiful and colourful – there are healthy and scrumptious options for every taste.
Hubbub provide a useful introduction to how to get started with a plant-based diet. Their guidance covers everything from nutrition to products. Check it out here.
Veganuary have lots of great recipes, an eating out guide and more.
More background information
Read more about a recent study into the environmental impacts of meat, dairy and plant-based foods on the Guardian website.
Check out the carbon footprint of common foods at Food Unfolded.
A run down of great vegan protein sources on BBC Good Food.
The environmental impact of plant-based milks compared by the Guardian.