As global warming becomes more apparent year after year, we must challenge ourselves to think about the role we play in greenhouse gas emissions. What you eat not only affects your health but also has an impact on the environment.
Why? It’s simple all food that is offered in the commercial setting to consumers is created by humans, in one way or another, whether it is growing crops, sourced from a dairy, meat or chicken farm or in made in a factory.
The low-carbon diet continues to gain more and more attention because it is an important part of reducing carbon dioxide emissions in the transportation, consumption and production of food.
Approximately 22 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States come from the food sector, with the beef industry being the largest contributor and dairy coming in second place.
What Is a Low-Carbon Diet?
A low-carbon diet is a diet that results in less carbon emissions from farm to table. In essence, research on this suggests that we should eat less meat. Other characteristics of the low-carbon diet include the following:
• Eating the proper portion size
• Consuming less industrial meat and eating more vegetables
• Limiting your dairy intake (i.e., cheese, milk, etc.)
• Eating foods based on the season and grown locally
How Does a Low-Carbon Diet Help Your Health?
Adopting a low-carbon diet not only aids in environmental protection but also has health benefits. Multiple studies show that following a low-carbon diet consistently decreases the amount of saturated fat content people digest. As a result, if you adopt a low-carbon diet, you are less likely to develop heart disease, high cholesterol, diabetes, stroke, obesity or cancer.
How Do Low-Carbon Diets Help the Environment?
Low-carbon diets can have a significant impact on the amount of methane we emit in a given year. The demand for beef and dairy triggers a sequence of demands on our environment, contributing to methane emissions. For example, the energy that goes into supporting animal products is enormous and may include:
• Animal feed production
• Feeding the animals
• Weighing the animals
• Transporting the animals
Eating a low-carbon diet can help decrease carbon pollution, slow the rate of global warming, and help to preserve our environment. A low-carbon diet helps to minimize the level of emissions released during the production, processing, transportation, and preparation of animal products.
You can make small changes to your diet that can both improve the environment and benefit your health. Your food choices have an impact on your carbon emissions, but with a few changes you can decrease your carbon footprint.
First, eat more fruits and vegetables and choose ones that come from local farmers. Buy organic foods and buy in bulk. You can easily find these at your local farmers’ market. Next, eat less meat. Livestock contributes the most greenhouse gasses of any category of emissions. Some experts recommend that you eliminate red meat from your diet altogether. If you are not ready to give up steak just yet, at least you can decrease the frequency with which you consume it.
Another tip: Go meatless one day each week. This action has a similar effect as it would if you drove 1,000 miles less in your car each year. Some experts say that becoming a vegan is like driving 156 miles less per week.
Next, rather than choosing fried foods, go for a grilled option. Lastly, minimize your dairy intake. Look for alternative foods that provide you with the vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats your body needs.
Curious to know more about your carbon footprint? Get a preview of what you are doing well or not so well by using the food calculator, courtesy the Low-Carbon Diet (www.eatlowcarbon.org).