Turkey is not only the main course of Thanksgiving, it’s also the centerpiece on most tables and essentially what the holiday revolves around. Thanksgiving is about families and friends getting together to celebrate each other, but some might wonder how much damage their grand feasts are doing to the environment. Still, those who are environmentally conscious may want to rethink including turkey in their traditional annual feast.
Meat has a greater environmental footprint than plant-based ingredients, with a 16-pound turkey creating a total of 34.2 pounds of CO2, according to research conducted by Carnegie Mellon University. When combined, roasted Brussels sprouts, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, turkey gravy, biscuits and apple pie generate the same amount of CO2: 34.2 pounds.
As shown in the chart below, popular Thanksgiving ingredients like pumpkin and squash have low CO2 emissions. Per pound, pumpkin produces 0.11 and squash creates only 0.10 pounds of CO2.