MAKING a portion of chicken nuggets is as bad for the planet as driving a gas-guzzling car 2km and uses 12 times as much water as the average shower, shocking new research has revealed.
The nation's much-loved snacks can cause huge environmental damage, according to a new independent report using a formula from Oxford University.
Traditionally red meat has been in the dock for its harmful effect on the planet, but life cycle assessors at the sustainability consultancy Mondra warned of the risks of their favourite fried goods.
In contrast, plant-based alternative nuggets use much less water, emit 24 per cent less carbon dioxide and pose 87 per cent less risk to biodiversity they found.
Swapping a portion of chicken nuggets to a plant-based alternative saves the carbon equivalent of driving a kilometre in a family car every week.
If every parent swapped out a weekly portion, the UK would save the same volume of water as if the entire population ditched a shower.
Tom Holden, who led the research, said today: “By measuring the environmental impact of food production and communicating this information clearly to consumers, we can give people the tools to make more educated buying choices.
"This will be fundamental if we are to build a sustainable food system that doesn’t irreparably damage our planet."
Professor Joseph Poore, a researcher at Oxford University focusing on Food Sustainability, said a vegan diet was the best way to go green and help the planet.
He added: "It is far bigger than cutting down on your flights or buying an electric car.”
More and more fast-food places are launching plant-based food as Brits turn to veggie and vegan diets.
High Street bakery Greggs has won over hordes of veggies with its recently launched no-beef Steak Bake.
McDonalds' now do Veggie Dippers, with a McPlant burger on the way – and KFC does a quorn-based Vegan burger too.
250,000 people were expected to take part in this year's Veganuary – urging more people to cut out meat and dairy – and save money in the process.
The research comes as Boris Johnson and the Government look ahead to hosting the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow in November.
The PM wants to get to net zero by 2050 to meet his eco-goals – but has yet to unveil a detailed plan to make it happen.
But last week No10 slapped down plans for a tax on the nation's much-loved sausages as part of eco-plans – after outrage from MPs and experts.
A senior No10 official said: ‘This is categorically not going to happen.
"We will not be imposing a meat tax on the great British banger or anything else."
It would have meant that dinner time favourites like sausages, chops and bacon could have rocketed in price.
Critics told Boris Johnson he does not need to hike taxes to go green.
They urged him to invest in green jobs instead, and give businesses incentives to change their polluting practises.
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