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Research finds reducing consumption of just one food item would be like taking 8 million cars off the road: 'It would make a really big difference'

"You don't need to completely eradicate [it] from your diet."

Low-meat diet would account for about 11.84 pounds worth

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According to a new study undertaken by an Oxford University professor, if the biggest meat eaters in the United Kingdom were to switch to low-meat diets, the environmental impact would be equivalent to eight million cars being taken off the road.

Professor Peter Scarborough and his research team surveyed 55,000 people with varying diets and analyzed the results in depth, accounting for all the myriad impacts that the production of different foods have on the environment, including land use, water use, water pollution, and loss of species. 

Their findings were that meat eaters had the highest environmental impact in every case.

The study found that someone with a high-meat diet accounted for about 22.58 pounds worth of carbon dioxide production per day, while someone with a low-meat diet would account for about 11.84 pounds worth. A vegan would account for about 5.45 pounds on average.

The study's findings do not say that everyone has to become a vegetarian or vegan in order to save the planet, but rather that simply reducing thea mount of meat people eat would be a huge benefit.

''Our results show that if everyone in the UK who is a big meat-eater reduced the amount of meat they ate, it would make a really big difference," Professor Scarborough told the BBC. "You don't need to completely eradicate meat from your diet."

The adverse environmental impacts of the meat industry are not news — a growing body of scientific research has documented how harmful it is. Animal farming contributes a huge amount of planet-warming gases to the atmosphere relative to plant farming, while also using up and also polluting a huge amount of water. 

However, another study has found that although people are aware that meat impacts the environment, they are largely under-informed about the extent of the problem. In reality, livestock farming accounts for 14.5% of the heat-trapping gases produced by humans worldwide, reports the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

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