A family of four consuming a typical meat-centric barbecue meal produces the same amount of greenhouse gas emissions as driving a car for 80 miles, according to research compiled by the University of Sheffield’s Institute for Sustainable Food (ISF). The researchers looked at the carbon dioxide emissions of three types of meals cooked on a grill—cheeseburgers, barbecued chicken, and a fully vegan meal—and compared them to the average amount of carbon dioxide emitted by a car (approximately 154g CO2e/km). While cheeseburger meals proved to be the most environmentally destructive (5.8g CO2e/km per person), opting for a vegan meal slashes carbon dioxide emissions by more than half (2g CO2e/km per person). “Food contributes over 20 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions,” lead scientist Professor Sarah Bridle said. “As the barbecue season gets underway, people might like some food for thought about the impact of their choices on the environment.” The scientists will present their findings this week as an interactive experience called “Take a Bite Out of Climate Change” at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition in London which is expected to welcome 15,000 visitors. “Changing diet is one of the most significant ways that people can reduce their impact on the environment,” ISF Fellow Christian Reynolds said.

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