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A big analysis of environmental data strengthens the case for plant-based diets

The same foods grown in various ways can also have less impact on the planet, scientists say

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7:00am, June 6, 2018
food shopping

FOOD CHOICE MATTERS  A new study calculates the bonus for the planet of choosing more foods from plants.

From beef to beer, coffee to chocolate, there are environmental costs in what humanity chooses to eat and drink. Now a new study that quantifies the impact on the planet of producing and selling 40 different foods shows how these choices make a difference.

Agricultural data from 38,700 farms plus details of processing and retailing in 119 countries show wide differences in environmental impacts — from greenhouse gas emissions to water used — even between producers of the same product, says environmental scientist Joseph Poore of the University of Oxford. The amount of climate-warming gases released in the making of a pint of beer, for example, can more than double under high-impact production scenarios. For dairy and beef cattle combined, high-impact providers released about 12 times as many greenhouse gases as low-impact producers, Poore and colleague Thomas Nemecek report in the June 1

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