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Headlines > Environment

Meat high on greenhouse gas list, says UK report

By Ed Bedington , 07-Feb-2012

A UK study has claimed an entire switch to a vegetarian diet would be the environmental equivalent of taking half the country’s cars off the road.

The study, entitled ‘The relative greenhouse gas impacts of realistic dietary choices’, published in the journal Energy Policy, was written by researchers at Lancaster University and looked at 61 types of food. It put meat and cheese at the top of the league in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.

It said switching to a vegetarian diet would cut emissions by 22-26% and save around 40m tonnes of carbon a year.

The study has been attacked by UK producers. Nick Allen, sector director for Eblex, the levy organisation for beef and sheep farmers in England, said: “Through the Eblex roadmap work, the English beef and sheep industry is leading the way in benchmarking our carbon footprint and looking at practical ways for farmers to reduce their environmental impact.

“From what I have seen, the report appears to only look at the emissions cost of meat production and does not look at the benefits it brings. In the beef and sheep sector, two examples of this would be effectively managing grassland as a carbon sink, which locks up carbon in the soil, stopping it contributing to greenhouse gases, and the contribution grazing livestock make to managing the landscape.”

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