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Plant-based swaps at football matches can help tackle climate change


Switching to plant-based pies, burgers and hot dogs at home football games over the Green Football Weekend would save more than 250,000kg of carbon emissions, new research shows.

Football fans at Premier League and English Football League home matches could reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 264,593 kgCO2e by swapping their snacks for vegan alternatives over the Green Football Weekend (2-5 February), according to researchers at the University of Leeds. 

The switch would save the equivalent GHG emissions of 1,926 return trips from Luton Town to Newcastle United, the longest distance away fans will travel over the Green Football Weekend. 

Choosing plant-based pies, burgers and hot dogs would also decrease land use impacts by the equivalent of 71 football pitches and shrink food-related greenhouse gas emissions at football matches by 90%. 

Postgraduate researcher Sam Betts-Davies in the Priestley Centre for Climate Futures, who led the research, said:  “This research provides an indicative picture of the GHG emissions reductions associated with switching from typical meat products to plant-based alternatives. Emissions relating to food contribute around 20% of total global greenhouse gas emissions.  

“Emissions related to food play a relatively minor role in the climate footprint of football matches, compared to emissions caused by home and away fans travelling to and from the stadiums. 

“However, making these small changes to what we consume, whilst relatively small in the course of just one weekend, have been shown to carry significant emissions reductions if sustained in the long term.”  

The research team, which also included Dr Alice Garvey from the Priestley Centre for Climate Futures and Milca Vidal Salas from the School of Food Science and Nutrition, used a vast nutrient database provided by myfood24 – a company based at Nexus at the University of Leeds – to measure the impacts of various food swaps. Caterers to key Premier League and English Football League stadia provided data on product sales, including at Wembley Stadium, to inform the research. 

What is Green Football Weekend?

The findings come ahead of Green Football Weekend (2-5 February), when clubs around the country will act on climate together. The world’s largest climate-football campaign is encouraging fans to try a veggie option at football grounds, restaurants and at home to help protect our world. 

Gary Lineker, Green Football Weekend Ambassador, said: “I am proud to support Green Football Weekend to mobilise millions of fans and over 80 clubs to protect what we love. Football has the unbelievable power to unite everyone – clubs, players, and fans from across the community with a common goal to take action. Trying a healthy veggie option over Green Football Weekend is a simple step towards a healthier lifestyle and a healthier planet. “   

Fans at home can also choose a veggie option from the free, online Green Football Weekend Veggie Cookbook, where more than 70 football players, pundits, celebrity chefs, club nutritionists and football-loving personalities have shared their favourite veggie recipes. By downloading the cookbook or trying a veggie option, fans can then score a goal for their club to help them win the Green Football Cup, where more than 80 of the top professional clubs are vying for the title.  

Chef Raymond Blanc, who is featuring a special Green Football Weekend dish on his menu at Arsenal, said: “This exciting project has the support of so many football clubs, players and fellow chefs and cooks. If we all make a small change to how we eat, together we can make a huge and valuable impact on our health, our pockets and, of course, the planet. It also means a lot of fun in the kitchen – put on your apron and create gorgeous, healthy, wholesome dishes.” 

Further information

Email University of Leeds Press Officer Mia Saunders at with University media enquiries, or contact Vicci Moyles at for Green Football Weekend queries.