Breaking news: SA's farts are stinking out the world
Call for switch to vegan diet as SA ranks among top 50 nations for CO2 emissions thanks to how much meat we eat
It’s official: South Africans are full of hot air, and a lot of it.
A recently published food carbon footprint study, which shows the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions for animal and non-animal products, reveals that South Africa ranks among the world’s top 50 countries.
The study, conducted by nu3, an online German nutrition retailer, looked at 130 countries and how much carbon dioxide each country’s citizens emit, based on their diet. It also looked at what people can do to reduce their country’s carbon footprint by switching from a meat to a vegan diet.The study shows that Argentina’s citizens emit the highest levels of CO2 per person owing to animal-product consumption at roughly 305kg of CO2 annually. Beef, according to the report, is the worst food product for carbon dioxide emissions.
South Africa ranks 45 on the index, with its citizens emitting on average 122.32kg of CO2 per person annually for animal products. When it comes to non-animal products South African vegans only emit 9.04kg.
The study used data from the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation to compare countries. The top 10 countries for food carbon dioxide emissions are Argentina, Australia, Iceland, Albania, New Zealand, the United States, Uruguay, Luxembourg, Kazakhstan and Brazil.
The study found:
• Hong Kong emits the most annual CO2 per person due to pork consumption, at a level of 237.54kg;• Israel emits the most annual CO2 per person due to poultry consumption, at a level of 67.14kg;• Argentina emits the most annual CO2 per person due to beef consumption, at a level of 1,712kg;• Iceland emits the most annual CO2 per person due to lamb and goat consumption, at a level of 739.62kg;• The Maldives emit the most annual CO2 per person due to fish consumption, at a level of 286.94kg;• Japan emits the most annual CO2 per person due to egg consumption, at a level of 17.59kg; and • Finland emits the most annual CO2 per person due to milk and cheese consumption, at a level of 613.57kg.nu3 says the study compared countries based on their dietary habits, with the research conducted to spark debate around the food industry’s carbon footprint.
“The study reveals which countries could significantly reduce their carbon footprint by switching to a plant-based diet, as well as which food types generate the highest carbon dioxide emissions,” say the authors
Researchers looked at 11 types of food supplied for consumption. Seven were animal products, including chicken, goat, fish, beef, lamb, pork and dairy, while four were non-animal products including wheat, beans, rice and nuts.
nu3 chief executive Robert Sünderhauf said with the study revealing how switching diets could drastically reduce our carbon footprint, it was becoming increasingly harder to ignore the benefits of moving to a plant-based diet, “both for our health and our planet”.
He said for those who balked at the idea of giving up meat completely, there were alternatives. “Healthier fish and poultry have a far lower CO2 emission rate than fattier red meats such as lamb and beef, while eggs produce significantly lower emission rates than milk products and cheese.”He said while vegan movements were raising awareness of the benefits of a plant-based diet, the study would further the discussion around the environmental impact of our eating habits.
“Nations with a large meat consumption, like Australia, the US and France, have a great deal to gain by giving up animal products.”
Pretoria-based nutritionist Dr Chris de Beer said red meat was having a significant health effect on South Africans, especially when it comes to problems such as arthritis and osteoporosis.
“South Africa leads the world when it comes to arthritis and osteoporosis. While people’s genetics dictate how much protein one needs to consume, plant-based diets have a huge benefit for people.”