Find out how to love your Christmas dinner while loving the planet 

Thinking about the environment on Christmas Day doesn’t have to be a case of ‘Bah humbug’, because just simple changes can make a world of difference.

According to Sarah Bridle, author of Food and Climate Change Without the Hot Air, and a Professor at the University of Manchester, a traditional Christmas dinner – with six people eating a portion of turkey, three pigs in blankets, some stuffing and roasted vegetables - produces nearly 30 kg of CO2. This is enough to fill nearly 1,200 party balloons, or is the equivalent to driving a car for three hours.

While nearly half of these emissions come from producing and cooking the turkey, and almost the same amount comes from producing the stuffing and pigs in blankets, the vegetables add less than 10% to the total, and a single glass of wine adds even less.

Brindle says there are various ways to reduce our impact on the environment:

1. Change the quantities 

Halving the amount of meat on our plates and doubling the amount of vegetables would reduce emissions by 30%.

2. Switch to stuffing

Keeping the same portion sizes and switching pigs in blankets to veggie sausages and pork stuffing to a veggie version would reduce the climate impact by one third.

3. Swap the turkey

Swapping turkey for a nut roast could reduce the impact of the centrepiece by five times.

4. Go vegan(ish)

This brings the total emissions of the Christmas dinner down by three times, compared to the traditional version, down to less than 9 kg of carbon dioxide per family. This is equivalent to driving a car for less than an hour. However, veganism may not always be suitable in the long term and there are many nutritional factors to consider.

5. Avoid roast beef

This popular alternative to roast turkey Christmas dinner raises the total emissions for Christmas dinner up to nearly 75 kg of carbon dioxide equivalent. Emissions will of course vary between grass-fed and grain fed beef.

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