Eating Vegan Once a Week Can Reduce Greenhouse Gases by 8.4% per Year

Landscape of meadow field with the changing environment
© Leo Lintang - Adobe Stock

New data reveals UK greenhouse gas emissions could be cut by up to 8.4% a year swapping red meat to plant-based just once a week, and that 42% of UK consumers are already looking to increase the number of meat free meals they eat.

According to the new scientific data analysis1, if UK consumers exchanged just one more red meat meal to a plant-based meal per week, it would cut the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions by 50 million tonnes – which is the equivalent of taking 16 million cars off the road – resulting in up to an 8.4 percent reduction in the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions2.

The analysis was undertaken on behalf of The Meatless Farm Co by Joseph Poore, lead author of a recent global study on the environmental impacts of food, to calculate the environmental benefits of changing diets in Britain. He compared red meat meals versus their plant-based equivalents, analysing everything from production on the farm and lifecycle environmental impacts, to energy use, transportation throughout the supply chain, packaging and packaging disposal and food loss and waste at each stage, as well as the carbon benefits from trees re-growing on the land no longer required to produce meat.

As well as revealing a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, these new findings demonstrated that switching just one red meat meal to plant-based a week could result in a 23% reduction (8 million hectares) in the UK’s domestic and international farmland use, and a 2% reduction in the UK’s water use (the same as taking 55 fewer showers per person per year).

1New analysis based on peer-reviewed data from a recent study by Poore & Nemecek (2018) Science

2Based on UK total Greenhouse Gas emissions of 590Mt CO2eq/year, excluding imports