How Does the Carbon Footprint of Protein Rich Foods compare?

Producing 100 grams of protein from beef emits a concerning amount of carbon dioxide

Reduce your carbon emission footprint by switching to plant-based protein

Climate science is showing us that switching to a plant-based diet is the most effective way to reduce your carbon footprint. That’s why Purity Plant Protein created eco-friendly, plant based formulas packed with nature’s best ingredients. We didn’t want you to have to sacrifice on quality while helping the planet.

How does the carbon footprint of protein-rich foods compare?

Although protein-rich foods account for the bulk of our dietary emissions, evidence suggests plant-based foods emit fewer greenhouse gases than meat and dairy, regardless of how they are produced.

For instance, producing 100 grams of protein from peas emits just 0.4 kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalents. To get the same amount of protein from beef, emissions are nearly 90 times higher.

Producing 100 grams of protein from beef emits a concerning amount of carbon dioxide

It doesn’t matter whether you’re comparing the footprint of foods in terms of their weight or protein content, plant-based foods always have a lower carbon footprint than meat and dairy.

In order to comprehend the carbon footprint of protein rich foods, it’s important to understand the food supply chain. The global food system can be broken down into five main categories. These are: farming, manufacturing, distribution, retail, and consumer. Each of these categories, in one way or another, manages to damage the earth.

  • Farming — land clearing, land preparation and its impact
    • Land Use: High rates of land clearing results in a decrease in carbon sequestration from original forests. Land clearing also causes an increase in carbon from the destruction of forests.
    • Freshwater withdrawals: Placing strain on areas of low freshwater availability
    • Eutrophication and Acidification: Altering water systems and oceans with nitrogen and chemical runoff
    • Greenhouse Gas: Machinery used to plant and harvest
  • Manufacturing — raw materials to finished product
    • Greenhouse Gas: Machinery to convert raw materials into finished products
    • Eutrophication and Acidification: Waste and by-products from manufacturing
  • Distribution
    • Greenhouse Gas: Shipping, RoadFreight, Air Freight, Train
  • Retail
    • Greenhouse Gas: Storage
    • Wastage: Increases the per kg of all previous step
  • Consumer
    • Greenhouse Gas: Storage, cooking
    • Wastage: Increases the per kg of all previous steps


Although we rely on this system, research has highlighted the detrimental impact it’s had on our environment. For instance, the global food system is responsible for two thirds of all freshwater withdrawals. It is also responsible for the production of 13.7 billion tons of carbon dioxide. Another 2.8 billion tons is caused by non-food agriculture and deforestation.

How can I make a difference and change my carbon footprint?

Consuming less dairy and meat (especially beef and lamb) is a great start. However, switching to plant-based alternatives is recommended if you want to help the environment. Plant-based protein contributes to 4kgs of carbon dioxide compared to 95kgs of carbon dioxide per 1kg of whey protein produced. So, just by making the switch, you could reduce your carbon footprint by 90kgs per month.

In spite of this staggering statistic, some athletes are convinced it’s difficult to get “high quality protein” from plant based sources, believing they’ll have to sacrifice performance for an environmentally friendly alternative. However, this is not the case when choosing plant-based supplements over whey protein.

With advances in product formulation, the differences in amino acid profiles can be mitigated, while improved processing allows vegan protein to be broken down into both fast and slow absorbing peptides.

New technology and further research around organic alternatives means vegan protein powders no longer have a strange taste or texture profile. Instead, they’re rich, creamy, delicious and pair well with other naturally beneficial ingredients.

So, with these important points in mind, make the switch to Purity Plant Protein and reduce your carbon emission footprint in the process.

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