Amid accelerating deforestation in the Amazon and alarming climate-related events worldwide, paired with frustrating or inefficient governmental responses, people worldwide have decided to take climate change into their own hands.
Care to join us?
Keep reading to learn how the simple act of being more mindful of the foods you eat can reduce your footprint in a major way!
1. Eat more plants
Did you know that livestock farming accounts for 18% of all greenhouse gas emissions and 80% of total human land use1? Recent studies have shown that not only does a diet focusing on less processed foods and animal products improve your health, but it might also be the key to saving the planet2,3.
A study published in 20184 found that the “flexitarian” diet, which promotes mindful meat consumption, could impact:
- Greenhouse gas emissions (54-87% reduction)
- Use of toxic fertilizers (18-25% reduction)
- Land use (8-11% reduction)
- Freshwater use (2-11% reduction)
The incredible impacts of a shift toward a diet containing fewer animal products would be felt worldwide, even if just 25% of the population took it on. Just imagine it:
- Abandoned cropland could be recolonized by vegetation, resulting in less atmospheric carbon.
- Methane and nitrous oxide emissions released by cows would be reduced substantially.
- Our worries about the sustainability of our freshwater stores could be forgotten.
As you can see, this small change packs an enormous punch for human sustainability.
2. Choose organic
Chemicals agriculture isn’t great for the planet, to say the least. First, most synthetic pesticides and fertilizers are made from fossil fuels, which we already know are bad. On top of that, synthetic nitrogen fertilizers produce nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas that’s even better than CO2 at trapping heat in the Earth’s atmosphere (about 300 times better, to be exact)5.
3. Eat local?
Eating local is all the rage nowadays. But who would have guessed that your obsession with going to the market every Saturday is helping the planet? It’s true: Food transport has significant environmental impacts, as it increases greenhouse gas emissions6,7. So why not skip this step?
4. Eat real foods!
You know we had to sneak this one in! Believe it or not, ultra-processed foods are pretty terrible for the planet8. While overall, they produce less greenhouse gas emissions than meat or dairy, they’re still pretty high on the list of problems where the environment is concerned. This is mainly due to the excessive use of packaging and food additives, which have detrimental impacts on the environment and health9. Not to mention the greenhouse gas emissions resulting from their generally long-distance transportation halfway across the globe!
Today’s Daily Action
In reading this article, you’ve already taken the first step to fight for a healthier planet – Congratulations! Now, work on taking actionable steps to reduce your impact: Plan a few plant-based meals this week, buy local produce, and buy organic whenever you can.
Remember: Nobody’s perfect. But together, we can make a difference.
- Stehfest, E. et al. Climate benefits of changing diet. Climatic Change 95, 83–102 (2009).
- Bose, N., Hills, T. & Sgroi, D. Climate Change and Diet. SSRN Scholarly Paper at https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3643190 (2020).
- Magkos, F. et al. A Perspective on the Transition to Plant-Based Diets: a Diet Change May Attenuate Climate Change, but Can It Also Attenuate Obesity and Chronic Disease Risk? Advances in Nutrition 11, 1–9 (2020).
- Springmann, M. et al. Health and nutritional aspects of sustainable diet strategies and their association with environmental impacts: a global modelling analysis with country-level detail. The Lancet Planetary Health 2, e451–e461 (2018).
- Smith, K. A. Nitrous Oxide and Climate Change. (Earthscan, 2010).
- Carlsson-Kanyama, A. & González, A. D. Potential contributions of food consumption patterns to climate change. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 89, 1704S-1709S (2009).
- González, A. D., Frostell, B. & Carlsson-Kanyama, A. Protein efficiency per unit energy and per unit greenhouse gas emissions: Potential contribution of diet choices to climate change mitigation. Food Policy 36, 562–570 (2011).
- Fardet, A. & Rock, E. Ultra-Processed Foods and Food System Sustainability: What Are the Links? Sustainability 12, 6280 (2020).
- Seferidi, P. et al. The neglected environmental impacts of ultra-processed foods. The Lancet Planetary Health 4, e437–e438 (2020).