Men’s meat-heavy diets cause 40% more climate emissions than women’s, study finds – The Guardian
Men’s meaty diets are responsible for 40% more climate-heating emissions than those of women, according to a UK study.
The research also found a quarter of diet-related emissions were from “optional” food and drink, such as coffee, alcohol, cakes and sweets. The scientists said policies to encourage sustainable diets should focus on plant-based foods but switching drinks and cutting down on sweet snacks presented further opportunities.
A second study found in western countries, vegan and vegetarian diets were about a third cheaper to buy than regular diets, which the researchers said contrasted with the perception that they were the “preserve of a privileged middle class”.
Food production causes 30% of greenhouse gas emissions, and previous studies have shown that meat-eating in rich countries must be sharply reduced in order to tackle the climate crisis, largely caused by the methane and deforestation associated with cattle. But these studies have looked at the average emissions of broad food categories.
The new study, published in the journal Plos One, analysed the emissions linked to more than 3,200 specific food items and examined the diets of 212 British people, who recorded their food and drink intake over three 24-hour periods. It found animal products were responsible for almost half of the average diet’s greenhouse gas emissions: 31% from meat and 14% from dairy. Drink caused 15% of emissions and 8% came from cakes, biscuits and confectionery.
The research also showed that non-vegetarian diets created 59% more emissions than vegetarian diets. Men’s diets had 41% more emissions, largely due to eating more meat but also due to more drinks.
“We all want to do our bit to help save the planet,” said the scientists, led by Holly Rippin, at the University of Leeds. “Working out how to modify our diets is one way we can do that. There are broad-brush concepts like reducing our meat intake, particularly red meat, but our work also shows that big gains can be made from small changes, like cutting out sweets.”
Rippin said the research did not assess why men ate more meat. “But we can speculate that it could be because men generally eat more food than women,” she said. “We could also speculate that men may eat more traditional meat-based diets.”
Another recent study found that men’s spending on goods caused 16% more emissions than women’s, despite the sum of money being very similar, mostly due to higher spending on petrol and diesel for cars.
The scientists’ database also …….