Oxford, UK – A major new study evaluating the environmental impact of thousands of food products suggests veggie sausages and veggie burgers are up to 10 times better for the planet than meat.
The study from the University of Oxford evaluated 57,000 food products from supermarkets across the UK and Ireland.
Researchers looked at four factors including greenhouse gas emissions, water stress, land use and the over-fertilisation of water and soil, which deteriorates quality.
Among the worst for the planet were dried beef products, like jerky and biltong. But a number of plant-based meat products, like sausages and burgers, had a fifth to less than a 10th of the environmental impact of their animal meat counterparts.
Products made with fruits, sugar, flour, and vegetables such as soups, cereals and salads also had a low impact on the environment.
Professor Peter Scarborough, an Oxford Professor of Population Health, said the findings were very exciting.
“For the first time, we have a transparent and comparable method for assessing the environmental footprint of multi-ingredient processed foods,” Professor Scarborough says.
“These types of foods make up most of the supermarket shopping we do, but until now there was no way of directly comparing their impact on the environment.”
The work could help to develop tools to assist consumers in making more sustainable shopping choices, but it could also prompt retailers and food manufacturers to reduce the environmental impact of the food supply.
In the UK, people are already changing the way they shop. This is, in part, because of the ongoing cost of living crisis that has seen meat prices soar.
In June, a Vegan Society survey found a third of UK consumers are either cutting out meat from their weekly shop or reducing it.
Another study from earlier this month reported that more than 25 percent of UK adults are reducing meat amid the cost of living crisis.
In other plant-based news, Italy has banned the slaughter of male chicks, sparing up to 40 million birds a year. Male chicks are considered by-products of the egg industry.
Malta has just banned fur farming and foie gras production. The ban will prevent producers from moving their business into Malta.
And national airline Egyptair will no longer transport monkeys for animal testing. The airline says no to cruelty following pressure from activist groups.