A study found that men who eat meat more often than women produce 41% higher average greenhouse gas emissions.

Experts believe that the main source of greenhouse gases is food production, which accounts for approximately a third to a quarter of all emissions.

Research has shown in the past that diets with less nutrients and energy are generally worse for the planet.

Yet these impact assessments tend to be conducted based on broad food groups rather than specific items, leading to inaccuracies when assessing individual diets.

This was addressed by researchers at the University of Leeds who evaluated the carbon emissions from more than 3,000 different food products.

After analyzing the diets for 212 UK adults, they found that non vegetarian diets produced 59% less emissions than those of vegetarians.

The meat-rich diets of men result in 41 per cent more food-related greenhouse gas emissions on average than the diets of women, a study has concluded. Pictured: a man cuts up a steak

A study concluded that men who eat meat more often than women produce 41% more greenhouse gases related to food. Image: A man cuts up steak


According to Dr Greenwood, the top ten foods for diet-related greenhouse gas emissions assessed in the new study were ‘all different cuts of beef!’

This is in keeping with previous work indicating that the production of beef, lamb and other red meats come with a significant environmental impact.

Greenpeace’s experts claim that Britons must eat 71% less meat, dairy and eggs by 2030 to prevent “climate breakdown”.

The study was led by by public health nutrition expert Holly Rippin and  colleagues at the University of Leeds. 

Researchers stated that everyone wants to save the Earth.

The team believes that one method to change diets is working out. 

They added that there are many broad concepts, such as reducing meat consumption, especially red meat.

“But, our research also showed that small adjustments can make big differences, such as cutting back on sweets or switching brands. 

By reviewing the results of previous studies into footprints of various foods, the researchers were able to assign greenhouse gas emissions to 3,233 specific items listed in the UK Composition of Foods Integrated Dataset, or ‘COFID’, for short.

Public Health England has published COFID. This data contains nutritional information about food products and is often used for evaluating individual diets.

Dr Rippin and his collaborators used their collective datasets to compare the environmental benefits and the emissions of the diets of 212 UK adults for three consecutive 24-hour periods.

An analysis of participants’ diets revealed that those following non-vegetarian diets resulted in a 59% higher average increase in global greenhouse gas emissions than those on a vegetarian diet.

The average man’s meat consumption was 41% higher than that of a woman.

Dr Rippin and colleagues used their combined datasets to evaluation the nutritional benefits and emissions footprints of the diets of 212 UK adults who had reported all of the foods that they had consumed over three 24-hour periods. Pictured: the contribution of different types of food to dietary greenhouse gas emissions by age, body mass index, sex and vegetarian status

Dr Rippin used the combined data of his colleagues to evaluate the nutrition benefits and carbon footprints of the diets for 212 adults in the UK who reported every food they ate over the course of three 24 hour periods. Below: The contributions of different food items to dietary greenhouse gas emissions, according to age, gender, and vegetarian status

MailOnline has been told that Darren Greenwood (paper author, biostatistician) said, “Our research is not suggesting you have to stop eating meat completely, but that diets with fewer meat are more sustainable.”

Eat less meat. You should eat less meat and eat higher-quality meat. It’s that simple.

“Limiting sweets, cakes, and biscuits will help us reduce our negative impact on the environment as well as making us more healthy.”

Research also showed that people who had lower intakes of saturated fats, carbohydrate, and sodium than recommended by the World Health Organization had lower greenhouse gases emissions.

'Healthier diets had lower greenhouse gas emissions, demonstrating consistency between planetary and personal health,' the researchers concluded, adding that: 'policies encouraging sustainable diets should focus on plant-based diets'

The researchers found that healthier diets produced lower greenhouse gases, which demonstrates consistency between personal and planetary health. They concluded by stating: “Policies to encourage sustainable diets should be focused on plant-based diets.”

Researchers concluded, “Healthier diets have lower greenhouse gas emission, which demonstrates consistency between personal and planetary health.” 

Policies that promote sustainable eating habits should be based on plant-based diets. 

‘Substituting tea, coffee and alcohol with more sustainable alternatives, whilst reducing less nutritious sweet snacks, presents further opportunities.

Full results of this study have been published in PLOS ONE.

Team members noted that further research on the study could include other factors like food brands, countries of origin and environmental impact beyond greenhouse gas emissions.


Consuming meats, eggs, and dairy products can have a variety of negative effects on the environment.

Methane is released by cows, goats, pigs, sheep and other farm animals into the air. 

Although methane is not as effective at trapping heat than some other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, it’s 25 times more efficient than carbon dioxide.

To raise livestock, you also need to convert forests into farmland. This means CO2-absorbing trees must be removed, further contributing to climate change.

To make land available for crops, more trees must be cut. Around a third all the grain in the world goes to feeding animals for human consumption.

The water required for factory farming and crop growth is also huge. 542 Liters are needed to make one single chicken breast.

Additionally, fertilizers containing nitrogen are added to the nitrous oxide levels. 

Around 300 times more efficient at trapping heat from the atmosphere than nitrous oxide 

This can lead to further contamination of rivers by fertilisers.

Studies have found that vegetarianism can cut your food’s carbon footprint by up to half. Even further, going vegetarian can help reduce carbon emissions.