Catholics saved carbon by cutting out meat on Fridays, study shows

By Ruth Gledhill, 18 November 2022
Image: Juan Manuel Núñez Méndez/Unsplash

 

Researchers argue that if the Pope reinstated meatless Fridays across the global church, it could mitigate millions of tonnes of greenhouse gases annually.

One in four Catholics in England and Wales changed their eating habits after the Catholic bishops asked them to return to foregoing meat on Fridays, saving more than 55,000 tonnes of carbon a year, according to a new study led by the University of Cambridge.

Lead author Professor Shaun Larcom and colleagues from Cambridge’s Department of Land Economy combined new survey data with that from diet and social studies to quantify the effects of a statement issued by the Catholic Church for England and Wales re-establishing meat-free Fridays as a collective act of penance from September 2011 onwards after a 26-year hiatus.

Commissioned survey results suggest that 28 per cent of Catholics in England and Wales adjusted their Friday diet following this announcement. Of this segment, 41 per cent stated that they stopped eating meat on Friday, and 55 per cent said they tried to eat less meat on that day. For those who said they just reduced consumption, the researchers assumed a halving of meat intake on a Friday.

The researchers now argue that if the Pope reinstated meatless Fridays across the global church, it could mitigate millions of tonnes of greenhouse gases annually.

“The Catholic Church is very well placed to help mitigate climate change, with more than one billion followers around the world,” said Professor Larcom.

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With thanks to The Tablet and Ruth Gledhill, where this article originally appeared.

 

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