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Living Green

Less meat sees less health risks, emissions

While recent studies may have found that going organic might not necessarily be better for you or the environment, going vegetarian could help shrink a country’s carbon footprint.

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This is the finding of a modeling study published by the BMJ-British Medical Journal, which found that reducing red and processed meat consumption could shrink Britain’s greenhouse gas emissions by 28 million metric tons a year.

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The authors used data from the 2000-2001 British National Diet and Nutrition Survey to estimate red and processed meat intake across the populations and published data from life cycle analyses to quantify average greenhouse gas emissions for 45 different food categories.

By cutting average consumption of meat down to 53 grams a day for men and 30 grams a day for women, we would see reduction in greenhouse gas emissions or around 0.45 metric tons per person or around 28 million metric tons a year.

This would also have health benefits as it would cut the risk of coronary artery disease, diabetes, and bowel cancer by between 3 and 12 percent across the population.

While the data used was old, the most recent nutrition survey (2008/9) indicates similar and even slightly higher figures for red and processed meat consumption.

The researchers believe that further education on the health and climate benefits of watching what you eat could help lead to consumers making more sustainable choices.

Food and drink are said to account for a third of all greenhouse gas emissions attributable to United Kingdom consumers. Half of these come from livestock farming. – EcoSeed Staff



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