Climate change is the greatest environmental challenge that our global society has ever faced. Whilst there are many natural factors that contribute to climate change, largely, scientists agree that the situation we find ourselves in today is exacerbated by human emissions and activities.
As the planet warms, extreme weather events are becoming more common and intense, sea levels are rising, lengthy droughts are putting strain on agricultural activities, and numerous animal and plant species are being pushed to extinction. It’s difficult to imagine what changes we can make to our lifestyle choices to combat a problem of this size and severity.
If you think your waistline is the only thing affected by your food choices, it’s time to reconsider. Our food choices have a great impact on our planet. A study by Poore and Nemecek (2018) found that 25% of global emissions come from food, more than 50% of food emissions come from animal products, and 50% of all farmed animal emissions come from lamb and beef. By changing your eating habits through the avoidance or reduction of certain foods, you could start contributing to the fight against climate change.
We recommend several ways in which you can change your eating pattern to save the planet:
- Get creative with your protein sources and opt for lentils and beans! According to the Environmental Working Group, lentils are the most environmentally friendly protein that you can consume. As well as being accessible and easy on your budget, they have low carbon emission levels (40 times lower than lamb).
- Make some smart swaps – why not try to ditch salmon, and cook with mussels instead? Farmed salmon is one of the least sustainable types of fish whilst mussels are a great source of omega-3, protein and cause very little environmental damage. Farmed mussels are harvested on ropes in the ocean and consume food that occurs naturally in the water. In doing so, they filter and clean the water and extract carbon to make their shells.
- Moderate your meat consumption. As mentioned, most food emissions come from animal products; without meat and dairy consumption, global farmland use could be reduced by more than 75% and still feed the world. We’re not saying that everyone should adopt a totally meatless diet, but we must all develop meat consciousness to combat climate change. Perhaps commit to reducing meat and dairy consumption by several meals per week - this is also an excuse to try out some new delicious veggie and vegan recipes!
- Reduce your food waste. When we waste food, we’re also wasting all of the energy and water it takes to grow, harvest, transport, and package it. Not to mention that when food rots in landfills, it produces methane – a greenhouse gas even more potent than carbon dioxide. Reduce food waste by planning ahead, not overbuying, batch-cooking to freeze leftovers, and making your own stock to use excess food!
Whilst there are many good ways to start making a positive impact in the climate battle, getting your dietary choices in check is a great place to start. As sustainable eating is about choosing foods that are healthy to our environment and our bodies, opting for more eco-foods will have a more positive impact on your lifestyle as a whole. Go on, give it a try – you’ll feel better for it.