Reducing our carbon footprint through the food we eat is important. It is now accepted that greenhouse gases are warming the Earth’s atmosphere, directly leading to more natural disasters, shifts in weather patterns, and rising sea levels. Less well known is the link between adopting a climate-friendly diet or a low-carbon diet to reduce humans’ carbon footprint.
A 2018, study by the University of Oxford, concluded that adopting a vegan diet would reduce a person’s carbon footprint by 73%. This is far more significant than cutting down on flights, or buying an electric car. Avoiding consumption of animal products also delivers far better environmental benefits than trying to purchase sustainable meat and dairy.
Cutting down on dairy is a significant benefit too. Cows emit high levels of methane, and the feed given to cows is produced with synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and water resources. A 2013 study found that almost 3/4 of the emissions occurred in processes prior to the milk leaving the farm.
Almonds and almond milk have a lower carbon footprint than cow’s milk, but almond milk has a higher water footprint, but it is still less carbon intensive than cow’s milk is. We should look for other alternatives, like oat milk, which is even more climate friendly.
All types of produce are a better choice for the environment than meat. While some produce is more planet-friendly than other types, the differences between different types of produce are negligible and they’re all so low-emission relative to animal products.
Buying local or from your farmers market can help cut down on how far your food has to travel, but how eco-friendly that food is, still depends on how the farmers grow it.
We should try to avoid perishable foods that have been air freighted. Although air freight makes up a small amount of transportation, transporting food by air emits around 50 times as much greenhouse gases as transporting the same amount by sea, so try and make sure you check the country of origin on labels.
The question is does eating a climate-friendly diet actually make a positive impact on the environment? The research points to a resounding ‘yes’ so we all need to contribute to this by cutting down on meat and dairy consumption while buying more climate-friendly foods, to try and make a difference when it comes to addressing green-house gas emissions.