Reducing the Carbon Footprint of Your Diet

Reducing the Carbon Footprint of Your Diet...

It is said that the global population will hit 9.8 billion by 2050, which means more than 3.5 billion tons of CO2 per year will be released into the atmosphere. The global demand for food will have to rise by almost 30% and increase greenhouse gas emissions directly. This increase in the demand for food will place the food industry under immense pressure. Individually we cannot change how food is grown but definitely change our dieting habits to make a change.

Going for an eco-friendly diet, which involves eating vegetables and local products, will not only help in reducing the carbon footprint but also, promote the natural beauty and organic farming of the planet.

With so much coming from the climate, we all need to make small efforts that will make a huge difference in the long run.

An eco-friendly diet has been defined as a diet rich in food that is either locally produced, minimally processed, or minimally packaged.

Consumers who consume fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains were found to be more sustainable than people who consume sugar, meat, and processed foods.

Global initiatives like the Paris Climate Agreement and more recently, The Transnational Anti-Climate Crimes Coalition, are aiming to push governments and the public to take environmental concerns more seriously, which, in turn, will promote the eco-friendly diet movement.

If you are serious about making a change in your diet, you should follow these small changes to reduce your carbon footprint.

Never Waste Food

Waste Food

We all have grown up eating portion sizes that include loads of food. However, according to this new research, the average person in the West uses 22 percent more energy in each meal than someone living in East Asia.

Consequently, this habit has a huge effect on the climate. Cleaning the plate after every single meal will help to get rid of extra carbon emissions produced.

If you are serious about making a change in your diet, you should follow these small changes to reduce your carbon footprint.

Think, eat, save. Today’s wastage is tomorrow’s shortage. Apart from food scarcity, we might also experience increased greenhouse gas emissions due to food wastage. This is because food thrown away in the dustbins ends up in landfills. It is known that a person wastes around 200 to 400 kg of food per year. Imagine the amount of methane released from all this food. In a century, methane has 35 times the impact of carbon dioxide on global warming.

Hence, we should always try to decrease food wastage in our households as change begins from home. We should always recycle leftovers into new innovative dishes, cook as much is required, never buy in bulk and never throw away food. If you have excess food someday, you can always donate it. Better fill a hungry stomach than increase the environmental burden.

Stop Using Plastic

Stop Using Plastic Food

P.S Jagadeesh Kumar, a notable scientist has rightly said, ‘Plastic is the most destructive weapon than a nuclear bomb or an atom bomb, its impact shall remain for centuries on the future generation’. It is important to avoid plastic given its harmful impact on the environment. Plastic is indeed cheap and durable however it comes at a very high cost to nature.

Plastic shopping bags, plastic boxes, plastic wrappings, etc are used by all industries. It is a major packaging material however single-use plastic leads to increased land, water, and soil pollution. The manufacturing process of plastic is itself polluting and it doesn’t decompose at all. There is so much plastic in the oceans affecting marine life as well.

As environmentally conscious citizens, we can do our bit by avoiding the use of plastic as much as possible and encouraging others to do so. Instead of plastic, we can go for cloth bags to keep fruits and vegetables when buying groceries. This is healthy as well. We can drink water from recyclable plastic bottles and always remember to send the plastic bottles, plates, and other stuff for recycling. We can go for glass containers instead of plastic ones to store foods. We should purchase less junk and street food as it is packed in Styrofoam and plastic which is harmful to the environment and human health as well.

Say No to Meat Diet or Decrease Meat Consumption

Meat Diet or Decrease Meat Consumption

Meat and dairy consumption is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than any other food category.

Meat consumption should be limited to less than 100 grams a day for every person if the global population will be able to consume a low-carbon diet. If everybody within a society opts for a vegetarian diet, it will take a huge chunk of carbon emissions from our diet and it will be a great change.

Limit or eliminate animal products such as dairy products, eggs, and meat.

These products, especially meat, are the major cause of deforestation and the killing of animals. If you don’t need to consume meat, then go vegan. The transition from meat to a vegan diet will make a huge difference.

Switching to a plant-based diet or even decreasing your meat consumption can reduce your carbon footprint, research shows. In a study that enrolled around 17,000 Americans, it was found that meat diets that included regular intakes of beef, pork, veal, and other animals were a major producer of greenhouse gases compared to plant-based diets.

This is because the process of livestock production-from breeding, to grazing and final consumption, is quite energy-intensive and causes about 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions. It is interesting to note that if everyone gives up meat diets, we can still feed the global population even if we reduced the agricultural area by 75%. There are many wild plants and berries which have not yet been discovered or have not been preferred by people.

Nonetheless, if going vegan is too much for you, you can reduce your meat consumption by sticking to one meat meal per week or day, going meat-free for a few days in a week, or trying new vegan recipes. Scientists from the University of Oxford found that just exchanging a meat dinner for a plant dinner once a week could reduce UK’s carbon footprint by 50 million tonnes.

Cut Back on Dairy

Cut back on dairy

Using fewer dairy products like milk and cheese can significantly decrease your carbon footprint. A study conducted in the dutch population showed that dairy products are the second biggest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, after meat.

Additional studies have highlighted that dairy also propels climate change. The dung of cattle, cows, and other milch animals give out greenhouse gases like methane, carbon dioxide, nitric oxide, and ammonia.

Also, as the production of cheese requires lots of milk, it is associated with greater emissions from factories and production plants than other products like pork, eggs, and chicken.

We can replace dairy products by using vegan spreads and using plant-based products like almond or soy milk which is healthy and also rich in proteins.

Dairy products contain lots of dairy products as milk and cheese, and other products such as cream, butter, yogurt, buttermilk and cream, butter and other fatty and sweet products, and more.

Plant-based products and alternatives, which include milk, cheese, butter, yogurt, and even ice cream, can be an alternative to dairy products and even replace them.

Avoid fresh milk and cream as they are among the major causes of greenhouse gas emissions.

Go for Fibre-Rich Plant Foods

It is known that a rich fiber diet not only improves immunity and stamina but is also beneficial for the environment. A recent American study has proven that high fiber plant diets which are low in saturated fat and sodium, emit the least greenhouse gases.

These foods energize us and keep us full for a longer time, reducing the consumption of processed foods with a carbon burden on the environment. Intake of fiber-rich foods also improves gut health and saves us from diseases of the heart, cancers, diabetes, and obesity.

Grow your Food- the Idea of a Small Kitchen Garden

You can grow your food in a small backyard or a kitchen garden or a community plot. When an individual or a community produces their food, it not only reduces their carbon footprint but also provides emotional satisfaction and better mental well-being as such activities are also therapeutic.

You can use organic gardening practices to grow fruits and vegetables. You can use kitchen waste as manure and this way you can cut down on plastic use and avoid eating food grown by using fertilizers and pesticides.

You reduce your dependence on the supermarket which has food transported over long distances. This way you can do your share in saving our planet.

Go Local Instead of Running Towards Supermarkets

Go local instead of running towards supermarkets

Buying food that is grown by the farmers of your region helps reduce the carbon footprint and also provides economical support to the native producers. This way you can avoid eating food imported from distant areas and consume fresh fruits and vegetables.

One should go for seasonal produce and organically grown plant foods. Foods that are out of season are usually imported, wasting precious fossil fuels. The entire process is quite wasteful and excessive energy is consumed, both in terms of human labor and resources.

So, let us learn to appreciate our native foods, and this way we can broaden our diet by inculcating earlier unknown wild plants and flowers, which have many herbal and healing qualities.

Do not throw away lumpy fruit and veggies

We all are attracted to the perfect red, shiny and plump apple we find in a big supermarket and despise the blemished one sold by the local grocery shops. Well, the former is sprayed with chemicals to make them look artificially attractive to lure customers.

Lumpy fruit and vegetables are the ones you should be buying. A 2018 research conducted by the University of Edinburgh has shown that over 60 million tonnes of blemished fruit and veggies are dumped in UK and Europe annually. This is because we are obsessed with the perfect product which is appealing to the eye but harmful to the health.

However, now many supermarkets such as Asda, Morrisons, Lidl sell blemished fruit as well. So you should learn to accept it as it is the natural way fruit looks like.

Use Efficient Cooking Methods

Use Efficient Cooking Methods

The way you cook your food also determines your carbon footprint. Cooking is responsible for 14% of electricity usage in our homes and it would increase your carbon footprint if the electricity is produced from burning fossil fuels.

Also, in many developing nations, the majority of the population resides in rural areas where the usage of dried cow dung cakes as fuel for cooking leads to enormous carbon dioxide production.

We can go for solar panels to produce electricity in our homes and also use solar cookers for cooking. This technology doesn’t require much space and can be easily tapped both in urban and rural areas to make a shift towards sustainable cooking practices.

The governments of the world should take necessary steps to raise awareness and provide sustainable alternatives to the people to reduce global warming.

According to the findings of the Eat-Lancet Commission in 2019, India’s dietary guidelines have the lowest carbon footprint compared to developed nations like Germany, the Netherlands, Uruguay, and the United States. It also found that U.S dietary practices produce the most carbon emissions in the world as most people in the US, including the West, have a high meat-focused diet.

Shop Organic

Organic produce is 100% natural. They do not have any pesticides, fertilizers, or animal or human by-products.

These products do not harm the environment and are, therefore, the best way to keep the planet clean.

If you are a foodie and love good food, then switching to a completely organic diet is a must.

Making small dietary changes can go a long way in reducing your carbon footprint. Just eating a plant-based diet, reducing meat consumption, cutting down on dairy, going local, eating seasonal foods, revamping your cooking methods, eating organic food, having your kitchen garden, and avoiding plastic, can save our environment and our precious resources from unnecessary wastage.