Knowledge for better food systems

Quantifying emissions from reducing meat in diets

Clare Oxborrow's picture

Friends of the Earth wants to be able to roughly quantify emissions savings from reducing meat consumption in the average UK diet. This would sit in a pledge aimed at encouraging the public to eat less meat.

I'm looking for a good source for GHG/CO2e from meat in the average diet, so that we can calculate what cutting this eg by 25%, 50% and 75% could look like for emissions.

I've found this useful article by Scarborough et al, but the dietary info it uses fairly old, from 1990, and diets will have changed.

I know to do this accurately is hugely challenging given all the variables. I'm not looking at this stage for high levels of detail, but broad brush figures (and will give the necessary disclaimers!)

I'd really appreciate any pointers to any useful data. Thanks!

Clare Oxborrow

Friends of the Earth


dtgrassian's picture
Submitted by dtgrassian on

Hi Clare,

That is not exactly my field (I'm in social policy), but I would recommend a few articles, if you haven't come across them yet:

Berners-Lee, M., et al. (2012). The relative greenhouse gas impacts of realistic dietary choices. Energy Policy [Online], 43, 184-190. Available from:

Davis, K. F. and D'Odorico, P. (2015). Livestock intensification and the influence of dietary change: A calorie-based assessment of competition for crop products. Science of the Total Environment, 538, 817-823.

Westhoek, H., et al. (2014). Food choices, health and environment: Effects of cutting Europe's meat and dairy intake. Global Environmental Change [Online], 26(1), 196-205. Available from: [Accessed 14 April 2015].

Hopefully at least one of them will be of help to you!

- Trent