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Swapping meat with veggies, fruits can lower carbon emissions by a quarter: Study

Study shows replacing meat with fruits and veggies in groceries cuts greenhouse gas emissions by 26%, with vegetarian options offering even greater reductions. Researchers urge clear emission info on labels for informed, healthy choices.

Written By: Rahul Pratyush @29_pratyush New Delhi Updated on: May 29, 2024 9:22 IST
Image Source : FREEPIK Switching meat for veggies cuts carbon emission: Study

A recent study suggests that substituting meat with additional vegetables and fruits in household groceries could lead to a decrease in greenhouse gas emissions by over a quarter, specifically 26 per cent. Conducted by researchers from the George Institute for Global Health and Imperial College London, the study demonstrates that opting for a vegetarian alternative instead of a frozen meat lasagna could potentially increase this reduction to as high as 71 per cent.

"Dietary habits need to change significantly if we are to meet global emissions targets, particularly in high-income countries like Australia, the UK, and the US," lead author and epidemiologist Dr Allison Gaines said.

However, she lamented that even though many people "are willing to make more sustainable food choices", they "lack reliable information to identify the more environmentally friendly options"

In a study featured in the journal Nature Food, researchers analysed the anticipated emissions stemming from the yearly grocery purchases of 7,000 households in Australia. They utilised data on ingredients, quantities, and production life cycles to make their calculations. The findings revealed that by making substitutions within similar food categories, emissions could be reduced by 26% across Australia, which is akin to removing more than 1.9 million cars from the roads.

Dr Gaines stressed the "need to put emissions information onto product labels". Importantly, she said that the swapping may also prove to be healthy and nutritious. The research team discovered that nearly half (49 per cent) of greenhouse gas emissions were attributed to meat products, despite accounting for only 11 per cent of total purchases. Conversely, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes made up one-quarter (25 per cent) of all purchases but were responsible for just 5 per cent of emissions.

"We found swapping would lead to a slight reduction in the proportion of ultra-processed foods purchased, which is a positive outcome because they're generally less healthy," Dr Gaines said.

(with IANS inputs)

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