Berlin - Giving up meat could drastically reduce your carbon footprint, with meat-eaters' diets responsible for almost twice the emissions of those of vegetarians, according to a German study.

A diet with meat is responsible for producing in a year the same amount of greenhouse gases as driving a mid-sized car 4 758km, the Institute for Ecological Economy Research (IOeW) said on Tuesday.

But the food a vegetarian consumes in 12 months is responsible for generating the same emissions as driving 2 427km, the IOeW said in a study commissioned by independent consumer protection group Foodwatch.

The calculations are based on emissions of greenhouse gases, including methane produced by the animals themselves, as well as emissions from food production including manufacturing feed and fertiliser and the use of farmland.

Going vegan - giving up meat and dairy products - would cut the emissions released in making what you eat more than seven-fold, to the equivalent of driving 629km, it said.

And if it is all organic, your food footprint is almost a 17th of that of a meat-eater - the equivalent of driving 281km.

Beef is environmentally unfriendly, it said, with producing a kilo the same as driving 71km compared with 26km for pork. - Sapa-AFP