What you eat has a huge impact on the environment – in fact, more than a third of global greenhouse gas emissions can be chalked up to food production according to a study published in the journal Nature Food.

The study, which modelled net emissions for over 170 plant and 16 animal products in nearly 200 countries, found that compared to plants, meat and dairy products produce twice as many emissions. Animal based foods account for 57 percent of total food emissions, whereas plant-based foods cause 29 per cent. Cotton and rubber production are responsible for the rest.

When it comes to animal based products, beef was found to be the biggest polluter followed by cow’s milk and pork.

Talking to AFP, lead researcher Prof Atul Jain, a climate and land use scientist from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said he had a personal reason for wanting to dig deeper into the issue.

“I’ve been a vegetarian since my childhood,” he said. “I wanted to estimate what my carbon footprint was.”

To come up with a consistent model, Jain’s team broke down the globe’s farmland into some 60,000 grid squares. Using data from 2010, the researchers analyzed all stages of food production (clearing of land, transport etc.) and how they contribute to emissions of methane, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide. They found that, from 2007 to 2013, the total emissions amounted to 17.318 billion metric tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year. That’s 35 percent of all global gas emissions.

The study adds to a growing body of research that indicates that animal farming is a large contributor to the climate crisis.

From : pk.mashable.com

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