A typical summer BBQ releases more greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere than an 80-mile car journey due to the energy-intensive nature of the meat industry.
These were the finding of researchers across the UK who looked into food’s impact on the environment, which is being showcased this week at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition in London.
Professor Sarah Bridle, a lead scientist behind the exhibit from the University of Manchester, said: ‘Food contributes over 20% of all greenhouse gas emissions.
‘As the barbecue season gets underway, people might like some food for thought about the impact of their choices on the environment.’
Researchers at the exhibit have used helium-filled balloons to illustrate the volume of CO2 that the production of different foods releases into the atmosphere.
They calculated that the production of a 100g beef burger releases enough greenhouse gases to fill over 60 balloons – equivalent to driving over six miles in a car.
A typical BBQ for four people would equate to the equivalent of over 200 balloons of CO2 per person – equivalent to each person driving over 20 miles.
Replacing beef burgers with chicken breasts would reduce the emissions of the BBQ to around 130 balloons worth of CO2.
If this were to be replaced with a vegan BBQ where all meat and dairy products were removed, this would emit a total of 80 balloons’ worth of CO2 – less than half the typical BBQ.
Prof. Bridle added: ‘By making a few small changes to our diets such as swapping beef for chicken or a vegetarian alternative, a fizzy drink to tap water, a cheese sandwich to a peanut butter sandwich, or a fry-up breakfast to porridge we can make a significant impact.’
The Take A Bite Out of Climate Change exhibit features work by researchers from the University of Sheffield’s Institute for Sustainable Food, along with the food resilience programme N8 Agrifood and the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) Food Network+.
The exhibit also looks to raise awareness of how science is transforming food production, through developments such as precision farming techniques, tools to measure soil emissions and improvements in supply chain efficiency.
Those behind the exhibit hope that it will help consumers to make informed choices and inspire food producers and retailers to lower their contribution to emissions.
Photo Credit – Pixabay.