If you’re trying to do your bit for the environment and reduce your ecological footprint perhaps you already sort your household waste into recyclables and non-recyclables, opt for energy saving light bulbs and may even walk instead of using the car or carpool to help reduce emissions. All good stuff.
But most of us are overlooking or unaware of the number one cause of climate change; animal agriculture! Factory farming produces more greenhouse gases than all of the world’s planes, trains, cars, buses, motorbikes, tuk-tuks and any other form of transport you can think of combined. That’s a lot!
The World population has doubled since the 1960’s, whilst meat production has quadrupled. Our demand for animal products has led to intensive farming practices which directly impact on the environment. High levels of methane emissions come from the animals and their waste, a greenhouse gas 25 times more damaging than CO2. More animals means more land needs to be cleared to produce more crops to feed the animals. Livestock production in Latin America is now accountable for 70% of the Amazon deforestation in order to create new pastures.
Beef is the biggest offender, followed by dairy and chicken, these combined accounting for over 60% of the food carbon footprint. It takes 7kg of grain to produce 1kg of beef which is such an inefficient use of resources, especially when there are over 800 million people starving in the world. There is no shortage of food on the planet, just an inability to access or afford food. Grains are fed to overbred animals and levels of food waste remain high in wealthier countries. The UK throws away 7 million tonnes of food each year, and more than half of this could have been eaten.
Eating a plant-based diet is better for your health, for the animals and for the environment. A meat and dairy diet has double the ecological footprint compared to a plant based diet. Each and every day what we choose to put on our fork has an impact on the environment, locally and globally. If you could choose foods that nourish you, protect against chronic disease and minimise damage to the environment would you make that choice?
Ways to Reduce Your Ecological Footprint with Your Fork
- Begin with small changes each day towards increasing vegetables, fruits, beans, pulses and other plant based foods, whilst reducing the portion sizes and frequency that animal products are consumed in the diet.
- Sign up to campaigns like Meatless Monday for meal ideas, or try the 30 Day Vegan Challenge where you’ll be sent an email daily offering inspiration and support with ways you can adopt a plant based diet.
- Eat everything you buy. Freeze leftovers and only buy what you need. Check out Love Food Hate Waste for more tips.
- Minimize the processed and packaged foods, which not only tend to be worse for our health but are also more resource intensive.
- Have fun with learning to cook new delicious, healthy vegan dishes.
- Making one meal each day or all meals a few days a week entirely plant based can be a good way to start. Alternatively, try graduating towards a plant based diet in stages, first by omitting red meat, poultry and fish, then eggs and then dairy (or in any order that suits you).
The key is to begin…your health and the planet will thank you for it!