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The American supermarket is changing. Dairy shelves are increasingly crowded with coconut yogurts, oat milks, and cashew cheeses, while “meatless” sections eat up more and more shelf space to make way for new options in plant-based burgers, soy “crumbles,” and assorted nuggets and sausages.
As shoppers have cut back on animal products—whether due to environmental concerns, health issues, or an ethical stance against animal cruelty—and look for appealing replacements, there’s no shortage of companies offering up choices. While dairy alternatives have seen the most stratospheric growth in recent years, meatless options have also seen a surge in popularity as beef and chicken substitutes become more enticing to the mainstream, with a 37.8 percent growth in sales from 2017 to 2019, according to research from the Good Food Institute. From March to May of this year, sales of plant-based meats rose 264 percent over just nine weeks amid a major uptick in home cooking during the COVID-19 lockdown. And as start-ups like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods bring the spotlight to the expanding profit potential in the plant-based meat market, Big Meat is angling for its share.
It’s clear from alt-milk’s current success that Big Dairy has essentially failed to contain the soy, almond, and oat milk industries, though certainly not for lack of trying. Meat companies seem to be trying a different approach: If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.
Through hopeful new lines and marketing campaigns, the meat industry is showing shoppers how its own products can be integrated into plant-forward eating instead of being replaced entirely. In 2019, Tyson—which produces an estimated 20 percent of all beef, pork, and chicken in the United States, and has previously backed Beyond Meat—launched a line of “plant-based” and blended meat products called Raised & Rooted. Perdue announced that it, too, would offer blended nuggets, alongside a five-year goal of making blended meat 5 percent of its overall business. Smithfield, the world’s largest pork producer, followed suit with a meatless brand called Pure Farmland, as did Hormel under the name Happy Little Plants. This June, JBS, the world’s largest meat processing company, jumped in the arena with its line of OZO faux meats, under its new subsidiary Planterra Foods.
Now that many of the world’s biggest meat corporations are getting into plant-based products, the question remains as to whether they can effectively contribute to the movement for more climate-friendly food. Is there reason for consumers to trust their new direction, and is it even possible for these companies to ameliorate the problems caused, in part, by their own systems of industrial meat production?
The more plant-based a diet is, the more environmentally sustainable, a research review published in Sustainability concluded last year. That verdict echoed high-profile guidance from researchers of a study in Science in 2018, who found that avoiding animal products has “transformative potential” for the environment. The land use and greenhouse gas emissions of animal-based food production have majorly contributed to the climate crisis, in which experts now estimate that just seven years remain until the effects of global warming become irreversible. The science is there: Moving toward a future less dependent on animal agriculture is both responsible and unavoidable.
Naturally, there’s a financial incentive for meat companies to launch vegan-friendly lines, according to Brian Kateman, co-founder and president of Reducetarian Foundation. His goal through the Reducetarian movement is to view meat consumption not as an all-or-nothing choice, but through the perspective that every vegetarian meal a person eats helps advance a world in which fewer animal products are consumed. “It’s not necessarily because [meat companies] loathe factory farming, or have decided that they want to abandon the primary ways in which they make money,” he said.
Kateman believes it’s “unquestionably a positive development that meat companies are investing, producing, [and] promoting plant-based products,” but there’s good reason to be skeptical of their reasons for getting into the game and their methods of marketing those products. Many companies of this size will just go wherever the money is: In 2018, responding to the rising interest in non-meat protein, Perdue chairman Jim Perdue said, “Our vision is to be the most trusted name in premium protein. It doesn’t say premium meat protein, just premium protein. That’s where consumers are going.”
For this reason, Kari Hamerschlag, deputy director of food and agriculture at Friends of the Earth, doesn’t see the meat industry’s current push into vegetarian options as an effective step toward a more sustainable food system. “I actually think that these large company investments will do very little to cut the massive impact of the world’s largest meat companies,” she said. “Unless these companies actually slash their emissions, then they are not doing what they need to do to address the climate crisis.”
Meat, fish, and dairy production use roughly 83 percent of the world’s farmland and are responsible for around 57 percent of our food system’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to that 2018 Science study on reducing food’s environmental impact. Even more disproportionate is the fact that all of that animal agriculture—and the environmental harm that comes with it—accounts for only 37 percent of the protein in our food supply. Producing a single kilogram of beef emits 60 kilograms of greenhouse gases (CO2-equivalents), while farming peas (which are used in numerous vegetarian meat substitutes) emits just one kilogram of these emissions per kilogram produced. When it comes to beef, most of those emissions come from land use and farm-stage processes like manure management and methane emissions. According to the EPA, manure management—yes, dealing with cow poop—alone accounts for 12 percent of the agriculture sector’s total greenhouse gas emissions nationwide.
With these statistics in mind, it’s difficult to see how Big Meat could be meaningfully interested in environmental causes while continuing to obtain most of their profits from factory farming. “It’s greenwashing, and it’s a smart marketing tool, and it’s a profit,” Hamerschlag explained. Greenwashing, a term coined by environmentalist Jay Westerveld in 1986, refers to practices that mislead consumers about a company or product’s environmental practices or benefits, whether that’s through false claims, self-congratulatory statements without backing evidence, or just vagueness.
For example, a bag of Tyson’s Raised & Rooted meatless nuggets offers the slogan “100% delicious. 0% compromise,” without even explaining what that compromise is. Other examples of greenwashing include the many instances of companies labeling foods “sustainable” without evidence or proof of third-party certification. Kateman pointed out that labeling around these claims needs to be honest: As he has written, Tyson’s use of “plant-based” for its nuggets can be misleading since they contain eggs, breaking from the common understanding that “plant-based” means vegan.
“[Meat companies] are meeting the market, but they are not addressing climate change,” Hamerschlag said. “Let’s just be clear about that: They are not slashing their greenhouse gas emissions—in fact, they continue to grow, because they’re expanding their operations in the meat sector.” Though large meat companies have announced emissions reduction initiatives—Smithfield has committed to reducing absolute emissions 25 percent by 2025, and Tyson is working toward a 30 percent reduction by 2030—Hamerschlag cited concerns with the scope of their emissions reporting. These same companies have made false promises before: In 2007, Smithfield promised to eliminate gestation crates, and later claimed to have fulfilled this commitment in 2018, but animal welfare groups found that the company was still keeping many pigs in cramped, unsanitary conditions.
The average American eats over 200 pounds of meat per year, according to data from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, amounting to some of the highest meat consumption in the world. But as Hamerschlag pointed out, even if American meat consumption goes down, domestic meat production could still remain high due to the demand for exports. Before the pandemic hit meat processing plants hard—unsafe workplace conditions for meatpacking workers have caused at least 42,000 cases of coronavirus and more than 200 deaths—the pork industry was still expanding. Driven by exports to China, pork production hit a record last year, the New York Times reported.
“I think the key thing to keep in mind is that in order to be a real solution to climate change, the meat companies need to start tracking, reporting, and setting serious greenhouse gas reduction target goals that would actually require them to divest, and produce less meat and dairy overall, rather than just adding a plant-based option to their portfolio,” Hamerschlag said. While it is a “real climate solution” for consumers to eat more vegetables and legumes, and specifically, to opt out of factory-farmed meat, she concluded that it’s crucial for meat companies to curb production and emissions, as well as for the government to tip the scale by integrating reduction goals into its food procurement programs.
Unlike the smaller vegan start-ups that we’ve been seeing more and more of in health food stores, these massive meat companies are equipped with resources to not just meet the demand for these options, but increase it. They have a large reach, distribution channels from supermarkets to stadiums, and capital to fund R&D, marketing, and investments in plant-based food brands. “Anywhere that food is served, these companies have, in one way or another, connections, so they’re really able to accelerate the distribution of these products,” Kateman said. Because of these resources, analysts have forecasted that companies like Tyson and Nestle will eventually become the leaders in the meat substitute space.
Danielle Nierenberg, co-founder and president of the sustainability-focused think tank Food Tank, would also ask for more from meat companies than just blended burgers and copycat veggie nuggets. “What I’d like to see from the Tysons and other big meat companies in the world is reversing some of the practices that have been so destructive to public health and the environment and to animal welfare,” she said. “That would be a bigger step forward in curbing climate change and the environmental problems that come from industrial meat production.” Big companies have power to sway things, Nierenberg added, pointing to Walmart’s push into the organic sector. Though the chain’s move into organic was controversial, its sheer size made those products more available to suburban shoppers, and familiarized more people with the concept in general.
“I think it’s really important that we not let perfection, be the enemy of the good.”
Ultimately, it’s unclear whether it’s possible to truly divest from the meat industry’s systemic problems by buying plant-based products produced by those same corporations, even if doing so could help shift consumer thinking. While consumers could ostensibly avoid some of these issues by buying vegan food from smaller start-ups and independent companies, financial ties to the meat industry are common: OSI, which supplies meat to McDonald’s, also produces Impossible Burgers, and Lightlife is owned by Canadian meat packaging goods company Maple Leaf Foods.
Despite the benefits that come with large meat companies’ ample resources and wide distribution channels, Hamerschlag does not personally want to see the profits from meat substitutes going to corporations whose “exploitative” business model gives her “significant concerns with the labor practices, the environmental practices, and health practices.”
But shopping ethically is never perfect—that’s part of the ethos Kateman promotes with the Reducetarian movement. Earlier this month, oat milk brand Oatly, which has boasted about its products’ environmental benefits and company sustainability, came under scrutiny for receiving an investment from a firm with ties to deforestation. But as Oatly has explained in response, it hopes this partnership will push other private equity firms to invest in green companies, ultimately resulting in maximum change for the environment.
A whole foods-based diet that relies on vegetables and legumes rather than processed meat and dairy substitutes is the safest bet when it comes to environmental friendliness and ethical consumption—but ultimately, we’ve just got to do our best. “The point is it’s a spectrum. I think it’s really important that we not let perfection, be the enemy of the good,” Kateman said. “If someone has decided to cut back on animal products, eat more plant-based foods, regardless of the source, that’s something to be celebrated.”
All the products we found to be the best during our testing this year
Throughout the year, CNN Underscored is constantly testing products — be it coffee makers or headphones — to find the absolute best in each respective category.
Our testing process is rigorous, consisting of hours of research (consulting experts, reading editorial reviews and perusing user ratings) to find the top products in each category. Once we settle on a testing pool, we spend weeks — if not months — testing and retesting each product multiple times in real-world settings. All this in an effort to settle on the absolute best products.
So, as we enter peak gifting season, if you’re on the hunt for the perfect gift, we know you’ll find something on this list that they (or you!) will absolutely love.
Beginner baristas and coffee connoisseurs alike will be pleased with the Baratza Virtuoso+, a conical burr grinder with 40 settings for grind size, from super fine (espresso) to super coarse (French press). The best coffee grinder we tested, this sleek look and simple, intuitive controls, including a digital timer, allow for a consistent grind every time — as well as optimal convenience.
Best drip coffee maker: Braun KF6050WH BrewSense Drip Coffee Maker ($79.95; amazon.com)
During our testing of drip coffee makers, we found the Braun KF6050WH BrewSense Drip Coffee Maker made a consistently delicious, hot cup of coffee, brewed efficiently and cleanly, from sleek, relatively compact hardware that is turnkey to operate, and all for a reasonable price.
Best single-serve coffee maker: Breville-Nespresso VertuoPlus ($165; originally $179.95; amazon.com)
Among all single-serve coffee makers we tested, the Breville-Nespresso VertuoPlus, which uses pods that deliver both espresso and “regular” coffee, could simply not be beat for its convenience. Intuitive and a snap to use right out of the box, it looks sleek on the counter, contains a detached 60-ounce water reservoir so you don’t have to refill it with each use and delivers perfectly hot, delicious coffee with a simple tap of a lever and press of a button.
Best coffee subscription: Blue Bottle (starting at $11 per shipment; bluebottlecoffee.com)
Blue Bottle’s coffee subscription won us over with its balance of variety, customizability and, most importantly, taste. We sampled both the single-origin and blend assortments and loved the flavor of nearly every single cup we made. The flavors are complex and bold but unmistakably delicious. Beyond its coffee, Blue Bottle’s subscription is simple and easy to use, with tons of options to tailor to your caffeine needs.
Best cold brewer coffee maker: Hario Mizudashi Cold Brew Coffeepot ($25; amazon.com)
This sleek, sophisticated and streamlined carafe produces 1 liter (about 4 1/4 cups) of rich, robust brew in just eight hours. It was among the simplest to assemble, it executed an exemplary brew in about the shortest time span, and it looked snazzy doing it. Plus, it rang up as the second-most affordable of our inventory.
Best nonstick pan: T-fal E76597 Ultimate Hard Anodized Nonstick Fry Pan With Lid ($39.97; amazon.com)
If you’re a minimalist and prefer to have just a single pan in your kitchen, you’d be set with the T-fal E76597. This pan’s depth gives it multipurpose functionality: It cooks standard frying-pan foods like eggs and meats, and its 2 1/2-inch sides are tall enough to prepare recipes you’d usually reserve for pots, like rices and stews. It’s a high-quality and affordable pan that outperformed some of the more expensive ones in our testing field.
Best blender: Breville Super Q ($499.95; breville.com)
With 1,800 watts of motor power, the Breville Super Q features a slew of preset buttons, comes in multiple colors, includes key accessories and is touted for being quieter than other models. At $500, it does carry a steep price tag, but for those who can’t imagine a smoothie-less morning, what breaks down to about $1.30 a day over a year seems like a bargain.
Best knife set: Chicago Cutlery Fusion 17-Piece Knife Block Set ($119.74; amazon.com)
The Chicago Cutlery Fusion 17-Piece Knife Block Set sets you up to easily take on almost any cutting job and is a heck of a steal at just $119.97. Not only did the core knives included (chef’s, paring, utility and serrated) perform admirably, but the set included a bevy of extras, including a full set of steak knives. We were blown away by their solid construction and reliable execution for such an incredible value. The knives stayed sharp through our multitude of tests, and we were big fans of the cushion-grip handles that kept them from slipping, as well as the classic look of the chestnut-stained wood block. If you’re looking for a complete knife set you’ll be proud of at a price that won’t put a dent in your savings account, this is the clear winner.
Best true wireless earbuds: AirPods Pro ($199, originally $249; amazon.com)
Apple’s AirPods Pro hit all the marks. They deliver a wide soundstage, thanks to on-the-fly equalizing tech that produces playback that seemingly brings you inside the studio with the artist. They have the best noise-canceling ability of all the earbuds we tested, which, aside from stiff-arming distractions, creates a truly immersive experience. To sum it up, you’re getting a comfortable design, a wide soundstage, easy connectivity and long battery life.
Best noise-canceling headphones: Sony WH-1000XM4 ($278, originally $349.99; amazon.com)
Not only do the WH-1000XM4s boast class-leading sound, but phenomenal noise-canceling ability. So much so that they ousted our former top overall pick, the Beats Solo Pros, in terms of ANC quality, as the over-ear XM4s better seal the ear from outside noise. Whether it was a noise from a dryer, loud neighbors down the hall or high-pitched sirens, the XM4s proved impenetrable. This is a feat that other headphones, notably the Solo Pros, could not compete with — which is to be expected considering their $348 price tag.
Best on-ear headphones: Beats Solo 3 ($119.95, originally $199.95; amazon.com)
The Beats Solo 3s are a phenomenal pair of on-ear headphones. Their sound quality was among the top of those we tested, pumping out particularly clear vocals and instrumentals alike. We enjoyed the control scheme too, taking the form of buttons in a circular configuration that blend seamlessly into the left ear cup design. They are also light, comfortable and are no slouch in the looks department — more than you’d expect given their reasonable $199.95 price tag.
The Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick has thousands of 5-star ratings across the internet, and it’s easy to see why. True to its name, this product clings to your lips for hours upon hours, burritos and messy breakfast sandwiches be damned. It’s also surprisingly moisturizing for such a superior stay-put formula, a combo that’s rare to come by.
The Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner is a longtime customer favorite — hence its nearly 7,500 5-star reviews on Sephora — and for good reason. We found it requires little to no effort to create a precise wing, the liner has superior staying power and it didn’t irritate those of us with sensitive skin after full days of wear. As an added bonus, it’s available in a whopping 12 shades.
The Steelcase Series 1 scored among the highest overall, standing out as one of the most customizable, high-quality, comfortable office chairs on the market. At $415, the Steelcase Series 1 beat out most of its pricier competitors across testing categories, scoring less than a single point lower than our highest-rated chair, the $1,036 Steelcase Leap, easily making it the best bang for the buck and a clear winner for our best office chair overall.
Best ergonomic keyboard: Logitech Ergo K860 ($129.99; logitech.com)
We found the Logitech Ergo K860 to be a phenomenally comfortable keyboard. Its build, featuring a split keyboard (meaning there’s a triangular gap down the middle) coupled with a wave-like curvature across the body, allows both your shoulders and hands to rest in a more natural position that eases the tension that can often accompany hours spent in front of a regular keyboard. Add the cozy palm rest along the bottom edge and you’ll find yourself sitting pretty comfortably.
Best ergonomic mouse: Logitech MX Master 3 ($99.99; logitech.com)
The Logitech MX Master 3 is an unequivocally comfortable mouse. It’s shaped to perfection, with special attention to the fingers that do the clicking. Using it felt like our fingers were lounging — with a sculpted ergonomic groove for nearly every finger.
Best ring light: Emart 10-Inch Selfie Ring Light ($25.99; amazon.com)
The Emart 10-Inch Standing Ring Light comes with a tripod that’s fully adjustable — from 19 inches to 50 inches — making it a great option whether you’re setting it atop your desk for video calls or need some overhead lighting so no weird shadows creep into your photos. Its three light modes (warm, cool and a nice mix of the two), along with 11 brightness levels (among the most settings on any of the lights we tested), ensure you’re always framed in the right light. And at a relatively cheap $35.40, this light combines usability and affordability better than any of the other options we tested.
Best linen sheets: Parachute Linen Sheet Set (starting at $149; parachute.com)
Well made, luxurious to the touch and with the most versatile shopping options (six sizes, nine colors and the ability to order individual sheets), the linen sheets from Parachute were, by a narrow margin, our favorite set. From the satisfying unboxing to a sumptuous sleep, with a la carte availability, Parachute set the gold standard in linen luxury.
Best shower head: Kohler Forte Shower Head (starting at $74.44; amazon.com)
Hands down, the Kohler Forte Shower Head provides the best overall shower experience, offering three distinct settings. Backstory: Lots of shower heads out there feature myriad “settings” that, when tested, are pretty much indecipherable. The Forte’s three sprays, however, are each incredibly different and equally successful. There’s the drenching, full-coverage rain shower, the pulsating massage and the “silk spray” setting that is basically a super-dense mist. The Forte manages to achieve all of this while using only 1.75 gallons per minute (GPM), making it a great option for those looking to conserve water.
Best humidifier: TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier (starting at $49.99; amazon.com)
The TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier ramped up the humidity in a room in about an hour, which was quicker than most of the options we tested. More importantly, though, it sustained those humidity levels over the longest period of time — 24 hours, to be exact. The levels were easy to check with the built-in reader (and we cross-checked that reading with an external reader to confirm accuracy). We also loved how easy this humidifier was to clean, and the nighttime mode for the LED reader eliminated any bright lights in the bedroom.
Best TV: TCL 6-Series (starting at $579.99; bestbuy.com)
With models starting at $599.99 for a 55-inch, the TCL 6-Series might give you reverse sticker shock considering everything you get for that relatively small price tag. But can a 4K smart TV with so many specification standards really deliver a good picture for $500? The short answer: a resounding yes. The TCL 6-Series produces a vibrant picture with flexible customization options and handles both HDR and Dolby Vision, optimization standards that improve the content you’re watching by adding depth to details and expanding the color spectrum.
Best streaming device: Roku Ultra ($99.99; amazon.com)
Roku recently updated its Ultra streaming box and the 2020 version is faster, thanks to a new quad-core processor. The newest Ultra retains all of the features we loved and enjoyed about the 2019 model, like almost zero lag time between waking it up and streaming content, leading to a hiccup-free streaming experience. On top of that, the Roku Ultra can upscale content to deliver the best picture possible on your TV — even on older-model TVs that don’t offer the latest and greatest picture quality — and supports everything from HD to 4K.
Best carry-on luggage: Away Carry-On ($225; away.com)
The Away Carry-On scored high marks across all our tests and has the best combination of features for the average traveler. Compared with higher-end brands like Rimowa, which retail for hundreds more, you’re getting the same durable materials, an excellent internal compression system and eye-catching style. Add in smart charging capabilities and a lifetime warranty, and this was the bag to beat.
Best portable charger: Anker PowerCore 13000 (starting at $31.99; amazon.com)
The Anker PowerCore 13000 shone most was in terms of charging capacity. It boasts 13,000 mAh (maH is a measure of how much power a device puts out over time), which is enough to fully charge an iPhone 11 two and a half times. Plus, it has two fast-charging USB Type-A ports so you can juice a pair of devices simultaneously. While not at the peak in terms of charging capacity, at just $31.99, it’s a serious bargain for so many mAhs.
Trump’s misleading tweet about changing your vote, briefly explained
Searches for changing one’s vote did not trend following the recent presidential debate, and just a few states appear to have processes for changing an early vote. But that didn’t stop President Trump from wrongly saying otherwise on Tuesday.
In early morning posts, the president falsely claimed on Twitter and Facebook that many people had Googled “Can I change my vote?” after the second presidential debate and said those searching wanted to change their vote over to him. Trump also wrongly claimed that most states have a mechanism for changing one’s vote. Actually, just a few states appear to have the ability, and it’s rarely used.
Trump’s claim about what was trending on Google after the debate doesn’t hold up. Searches for changing one’s vote were not among Google’s top trending searches for the day of the debate (October 22) or the day after. Searches for “Can I change my vote?” did increase slightly around the time of the debate, but there is no way to know whether the bump was related to the debate or whether the people searching were doing so in support of Trump.
It was only after Trump’s posts that searches about changing your vote spiked significantly. It’s worth noting that people were also searching for “Can I change my vote?” during a similar period before the 2016 presidential election.
Google declined to comment on the accuracy of Trump’s post.
Trump also claimed that these results indicate that most of the people who were searching for how to change their vote support him. But the Google Trends tool for the searches he mentioned does not provide that specific information.
Perhaps the most egregiously false claim in Trump’s recent posts is about “most states” having processes for changing your early vote. In fact, only a few states have such processes, and they can come with certain conditions. For instance, in Michigan, voters who vote absentee can ask for a new ballot by mail or in person until the day before the election.
The Center for Election Innovation’s David Becker told the Associated Press that changing one’s vote is “extremely rare.” Becker explained, “It’s hard enough to get people to vote once — it’s highly unlikely anybody will go through this process twice.”
At the time of publication, Trump’s false claims had drawn about 84,000 and 187,000 “Likes” on Twitter and Facebook, respectively. Trump’s posts accelerated searches about changing your vote in places like the swing state of Florida, where changing one’s vote after casting it is not possible. Those numbers are a reminder of the president’s capacity to spread misinformation quickly.
On Facebook, the president’s post came with a label directing people to Facebook’s Voting Information Center, but no fact-checking label. Twitter had no annotation on the president’s post. Neither company responded to a request for comment.
That Trump is willing to spread misinformation to benefit himself and his campaign isn’t a surprise. He does that a lot. Still, just days before a presidential election in which millions have already voted, this latest episode demonstrates that the president has no qualms about using false claims about voting to cause confusion and sow doubt in the electoral process.
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Nearly 6,000 civilian casualties in Afghanistan so far this year
From January to September, 5,939 civilians – 2,117 people killed and 3,822 wounded – were casualties of the fighting, the UN says.
Nearly 6,000 Afghan civilians were killed or wounded in the first nine months of the year as heavy fighting between government forces and Taliban fighters rages on despite efforts to find peace, the United Nations has said.
From January to September, there were 5,939 civilian casualties in the fighting – 2,117 people killed and 3,822 wounded, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said in a quarterly report on Tuesday.
“High levels of violence continue with a devastating impact on civilians, with Afghanistan remaining among the deadliest places in the world to be a civilian,” the report said.
Civilian casualties were 30 percent lower than in the same period last year but UNAMA said violence has failed to slow since the beginning of talks between government negotiators and the Taliban that began in Qatar’s capital, Doha, last month.
The Taliban was responsible for 45 percent of civilian casualties while government troops caused 23 percent, it said. United States-led international forces were responsible for two percent.
Most of the remainder occurred in crossfire, or were caused by ISIL (ISIS) or “undetermined” anti-government or pro-government elements, according to the report.
Ground fighting caused the most casualties followed by suicide and roadside bomb attacks, targeted killings by the Taliban and air raids by Afghan troops, the UN mission said.
Fighting has sharply increased in several parts of the country in recent weeks as government negotiators and the Taliban have failed to make progress in the peace talks.
The Taliban has been fighting the Afghan government since it was toppled from power in a US-led invasion in 2001.
Washington blamed the then-Taliban rulers for harbouring al-Qaeda leaders, including Osama bin Laden. Al-Qaeda was accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks.
Calls for urgent reduction of violence
Meanwhile, the US envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, said on Tuesday that the level of violence in the country was still too high and the Kabul government and Taliban fighters must work harder towards forging a ceasefire at the Doha talks.
Khalilzad made the comments before heading to the Qatari capital to hold meetings with the two sides.
“I return to the region disappointed that despite commitments to lower violence, it has not happened. The window to achieve a political settlement will not stay open forever,” he said in a tweet.
There needs to be “an agreement on a reduction of violence leading to a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire”, added Khalilzad.
1/4 I return to the region disappointed that despite commitments to lower violence, it has not happened. The window to achieve a political settlement will not stay open forever. https://t.co/hVl4b032W6
— U.S. Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad (@US4AfghanPeace) October 27, 2020
A deal in February between the US and the Taliban paved the way for foreign forces to leave Afghanistan by May 2021 in exchange for counterterrorism guarantees from the Taliban, which agreed to sit with the Afghan government to negotiate a permanent ceasefire and a power-sharing formula.
But progress at the intra-Afghan talks has been slow since their start in mid-September and diplomats and officials have warned that rising violence back home is sapping trust.
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