THERE’S A fair chance that, at some point over this weekend, many of us will be tucking into our favourite takeaway.

If it’s the so-called “nation’s favourite” – chicken tikka masala – or former favourite – fish and chips, then there’s a new report which should give you some food for thought.

Before you turn the page, it’s not yet another health organisation having a go at you for eating the wrong sort of food.

No, this report – from a much less likely source, the World Wildlife Foundation – is warning that these highly popular dishes could cease to exist in the way we know them. At the very least, they will cost more and taste very different to the versions we know and enjoy now.

The report was specially commissioned to mark the recent Earth Hour, described as the biggest event in the world to promote protecting our planet.

WWF, which is calling on people to eat more sustainably by cutting back on meat, fish and dairy products, set out to find out what environmental impact the UK’s favourite dishes have.

And the results could prove quite a shock for Bradford’s curry houses, fish’n’chip shops, takeaways and pubs as well as their customers.

The research – which focused on four favourite dishes – chicken tikka masala, fish and chips, cheese ploughman’s and Welsh lamb stew (or “cawl”) – discovered that they could be under threat in just 30 years as a result of climate change. It looks at where the ingredients come from and how much they contribute to our carbon footprint.

“For comparison, one example result shows that the emissions for the ingredients and preparation of one chicken tikka masala meal are equivalent to boiling a kettle 89 times to make a cup of tea,” it says. “Wherever food production takes place, the systems are dependent on the environment, whether wild fish caught at sea, sheep grazing on our hillsides or potatoes maturing in the soils beneath our feet.

“This report delves deeper into this dependency, to examine the relationship between food and the climate. We consider how our food can contribute towards the problem of climate change, but also how climate change threatens the supply of ingredients we take for granted. The results show there is a ‘two-way street’ between the climate and our food, insomuch as each is directly affected by the other.”

The study looks at he history and background of each meal and how much of it is consumed today and analyses the source of its ingredients.

For instance, the origins of chicken tikka masala, it says, are a matter of debate: “Various accounts credit an Indian restaurant in Glasgow for creating the dish in the 1960s when a patron complained his chicken tikka was too dry. The chef reportedly added tomato soup, spices and yogurt and eventually added this concoction to his menu. Other reports claim it was a solution to tone down the spiciness for British palates.”

The UK-sourced ingredients of the meal, with rice and naan bread, include chicken, cream, yoghurt, butter, onion, flour and rapeseed oil. But the rice comes from India, tomatoes, lemon and coriander usually from Spain, and the spices from a variety of countries.

Demand for chicken has soared and it is now the most popular meat consumed in the UK, with consumers eating on average 670g per person per week.

But that could change from 2030 onwards if action isn’t taken. The report says chickens could taste very different because higher temperatures will reduce the yield of soyameal (about a fifth of their diet) and they will be fed on alternatives such as insects and algae.

The UK imports more than 600,000 tonnes of rice but water shortages could lead to an increase in diseases causing prices to rise by more than a third by 2050. Similarly, tomato prices could soar due to extreme rainfall and heatwaves.

Fish and chips could suffer because warmer oceans would lead to species such as anchovies displacing cod, and potato crops in the UK are already being hit by lower rainfall. The ploughman’s would be hit because of heat stress on dairy herds and the resulting impact on milk production.

In all, the WWF report identified 20 risks from climate impacts to major ingredients and it says there is plenty of evidence climate change having an effect. Imports of avocados, coffee and courgettes, for instance, have already been squeezed, and UK farming has been struggling with flooded fields and new pest problems.

The report says: “Our food provides great pleasure but is also essential fuel for our bodies. Dietary choices are key to influencing exactly what is grown, and how much is needed.

“That is why we’re asking people to make small lifestyle changes and cut back on the amount of meat, fish and dairy they eat rather than cutting back altogether. By doing this, we can all play our part in helping resolve some of the issues in our food system, reduce our carbon footprint and future-proof our best-loved dishes.”

With 22 million takeaways eaten every week in the UK, it’s a big challenge. Perhaps this weekend is a good time to start...