New York: Wasting food that contains meat has a greater impact on the environment than vegetarian food, says a study.
This is because significantly more energy is used in the production of meat compared to the production of vegetables, researchers said, though on average less meat is wasted compared to fruits and vegetables.
This wasted energy is usually in the form of resources that can have negative impact on the surrounding environment such as diesel fuel or fertilizer being released into the environment.
"While many of us are concerned about food waste, we also need to consider the resources that are wasted when we throw away edible food," said study co-author Christine Costello from the University of Missouri.
"Farm equipment used to feed and maintain livestock and plant and harvest crops uses a lot of diesel fuel and other utilities from fossil fuels. When people waste meat, these fuels, as well as fertilizers, are also wasted," Costello said.
During the study, pre and post-consumer food waste was collected from four all-you-care-to-eat dining facilities over three months in 2014.
Costello and her research team created a detailed inventory of the specific types of food waste: meat, vegetables or starch.
"Based on the results, we recommend consumers pay special attention to avoiding waste when purchasing and preparing meat. If consumers choose to prepare extra food 'just in case', they should use plant-based foods," said co-author Ronald G. McGarvey.
"Based on our study, we recommend that people and institutions be more conscious of not only the amount but the types of food being wasted," said Costello.