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. Going vegan or vegetarian makes a huge difference to your climate impact and can even bring health benefits too!
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 really is much easier than you might think. Setting out to try it for a month will help you to stay motivated and explore your options.
The most popular time to do a month of vegan eating is January for Veganuary. This initiative has become increasingly popular over the last years with thousands of people participating. Other people might choose traditional fasting times like Ramadan or Lent to try out a new diet. Whichever time you choose, there is plenty of help out there to get you started.
Hubbub provide an excellent introduction to how to get started with a 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
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.