German nutrition retailer nu3 has analysed data from countries belonging to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation to assess which countries have the potential to significantly reduce their carbon footprint through switching their consumption to a plant based diet that would minimise damage to the environment.
The study analyses data from the FAO to determine the quantity of produce supplied for consumption of 11 food types, including poultry and eggs, for 130 countries around the globe to determine how much carbon dioxide each nation emits, based on their diet.
The carbon footprint per capita is then calculated for each food type, allowing a direct comparison of the CO2 produced. Finally, and to determine the index’s final ranking, the difference between the average CO2 produced by eating 1kg of animal product versus 1kg of non-animal product was calculated. This number then reveals how many kgs of CO2 an individual could reduce their carbon footprint if they switched from an animal to a non-animal diet.
Other countries with large poultry carbon footprints include the United States (53.7kg) and Brazil (48.3kg).
At the other end of the scale, a number of African countries recorded very low carbon footprints:
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Once again African countries made up the bulk of the lowest emitters with:
Argentina has the greatest carbon footprint due to animal product consumption in the world, emitting 305.81kg of carbon dioxide annually per person, due to the high level of beef consumption.
The country only emits 7.94kg of carbon dioxide per person for non-animal products. It means that Argentinians can make the greatest impact to the environment by switching to a plant-based diet followed by Australia, Iceland, Albania and New Zealand.
Robert Sunderhauf, nu3 chief executive, said the study showed how switching diets could drastically reduce the globe’s carbon footprint.
“For those who find the idea of completely giving up meat a challenge this index highlights some realistic and achievable alternatives. For instance, healthier fish and poultry have a far lower CO2 emission rate than fatty red meats such as lamb and beef, while eggs produce significantly lower emissions than milk products and cheese.
“All evidence points towards a mainly plant-based diet, with lean animal-based protein if needed, to help both our bodies and our environment prosper,” he added.