Dairy-based butter is 3.7 times more damaging to the environment than plant-based butter, according to a study recently published in The International Journal of Life Assessment. Researchers assessed 18 environmental indicators (such as key ingredient sourcing countries, production factory locations, packaging designs, and transportation) of dairy-based butter and cream compared to 212 plant-based butters, 16 plant-based creams, and 40 dairy alternatives sold in 21 countries per 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds). While dairy butter emitted the carbon dioxide equivalent (CDE) of 12.1 kilograms (26.7 pounds) per kilogram of product, the plant-based version emitted only 3.3 kilograms (7.3 pounds) CDE per kilogram. “This study confirmed that plant-based spreads had lower climate, water, and land impacts than butter, despite variability of product recipes, geographies, and influence of land use change,” the researchers said. A 2018 Oxford University study found that the meat and dairy industries are responsible for 60 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and that if individuals removed animal products from their diets, they would reduce their carbon footprint by 73 percent.
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