Flatulent cows make dairy ­butter 3 times WORSE for planet than plant-based spread – study

Scientists studied 212 plant-based spreads and margarines and compared the greenhouse emissions in the production to 21 dairy butters. It emerged the average carbon dioxide equivalent for plant-based spreads was 3.3kg for each kg produced, compared to 12.1kg of CO2 for dairy products. The damage is caused by methane, caused by cows breaking wind.

Methane is about 80 times more powerful than carbon dioxide at trapping heat and is responsible for 25 per cent of global warming.

Cow burps, wind and also farms’ manure management all contributed significantly to climate change, with a higher impact than most other factors, the research suggested.

The life cycle assessment, which is the largest of its type to date,concluded that margarines and plant-based spreads have a lower impact than butter in terms of climate, water and land.

The report covered the full life cycle of the products, including ­production stages such as crop ­cultivation through to refrigeration at retail.

For the dairy butter-based products, it included feed production, dairy farming, processing raw milk into butter and cream, packaging, distribution, storage at consumer homes and packaging.

The study, published in The International Journal Of Life Cycle Assessment, was based on products made by Upfield.

Sally Smith, head of sustainability at Upfield, said: “In order to achieve emissions targets designed to limit global warming, there needs to be a fundamental transformation of our food system.

“In Western countries especially, we currently rely too heavily on meat and dairy.

“It is our responsibility as a forward-thinking company to understand and act to address the impact of our plant-based products on the environment. A shift to regenerative agricultural practices will be key for dairy farmers.”

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