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How to make your christmas dinner more environmentally friendly

Using a microwave and cutting out meat is the best way to make your Christmas dinner more environmentally friendly, according to a new study published in the journal Nature Food. 

In order to assess the environmental impact of a typical Christmas dinner, researchers from the University of Brunel compared how different cooking methods affect the overall greenhouse emissions of particular types of food.

The researchers found that roasting food in the oven has the highest carbon footprint and using a  microwave has the lowest.

As well as changing cooking methods, the researchers have said that reducing cooking time can also help to reduce emissions.

Part-cooking some foods in a microwave first can decrease the time required to cook food in the oven without substantially affecting the taste or texture.

However, the researchers have highlighted the biggest way to reduce the carbon footprint of your Christmas dinner is to cut out meat altogether.

One kilogram of farm-reared, oven-cooked British beef can generate the equivalent of 643kg of carbon dioxide, more than a single flight from London to New York.

Turkey creates less greenhouse gas emissions than over types of meat, so is still a better choice for Christmas dinner, but the researchers have highlighted that trying meat-free alternatives is the best way to have a bigger impact.

Dr Ximena Schmidt, a Global Challenges Research Fellow at Brunel University London, said: ‘Our research found that our cooking practices could increase the impact of food items by up to 61%, with oven usage the most impactful practice.

‘Perhaps this year we might want to explore more sustainable cooking practices – for example, pre-cook food in the microwave or on the stove and then use the oven, or consider using energy-saving appliances such as slow cookers or pressure cookers. If not for Christmas, it might be a nice new year’s resolution!’

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