How Can Your Diet Help To Reduce Your Carbon Footprint?
As a society, we’re becoming increasingly concerned with the damage we do to the planet and how our lifestyle is contributing to global warming. A major focus for many of us is our carbon footprint, which represents the amount of carbon emitted as a result of activities we undertake. Humanity’s carbon footprint has grown significantly in recent years, increasing 11-fold since 1961, and reducing this is the most important thing we can do to improve the environment and live within the means of Planet Earth.
Most of us know that air travel, manufacturing processes and powering our homes can have an impact on our carbon footprint, but did you know that what we eat also contributes to our carbon emissions? By overhauling your diet, you can not only improve your health and wellbeing but also reduce pollution and help to save the planet. Here’s how your diet can help to reduce your carbon footprint.
How food impacts greenhouse gas emissions
What we eat can significantly impact the world around us. That’s because food production is responsible for 25% of all gas emissions, according to a study by the University of Oxford. Greenhouse gas emissions – particularly CO2 – trap heat in the atmosphere and contribute to global warming.
So how can we reduce our impact on the environment while still enjoying a healthy, balanced diet? Science suggests avoiding meat and dairy products is the way to go. Western society has always had a high consumption of meat and dairy, and this is increasingly impacting our environment. More than half of all food greenhouse gas emissions come from animal products, and half of all farmed animal emissions come from beef and lamb. Beef has the biggest carbon footprint of any food product, thanks to the high levels of resources required for production and their methane emissions. One study estimated that producing beef releases four times more greenhouses gases than pork and five times more than poultry. The livestock sector also contributes to global warming through deforestation, thanks to the expansion of land used to feed the animals.
So what can we do to repair the damage we have done to the earth through our diets? One solution is to reduce our consumption of meat and dairy products and turn to a plant-and fish-based diet. Because fishing doesn’t require masses of farmland or livestock care, seafood has a much smaller carbon footprint than other animal proteins, while plants have a smaller impact again. A vegan diet may well be the most sustainable option in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, but nutrition, culture and personal preference all mean that for many people, going entirely plant-based is not an option. For these people, sustainable seafood and occasional locally- and ethically-produced meat are great dietary options.
Our diets’ contribution to animal welfare
What we eat doesn’t just impact the environment – it also contributes to livestock cruelty. While there are many farmers and producers who are approaching the meat industry from an environmental and ethical standpoint, many of the mass-producers continue to contribute to animal cruelty through factory farming. Around one billion animals are bred and killed for food each year in the UK, with the majority of these reared on factory farms and killed when they are just months or weeks old. The living – and killing – conditions for many animals raised for human consumption are extremely concerning and have contributed to people the world over shunning the consumption of animal products altogether. If you are not quite at that stage, consider a more ethical approach to the meat and dairy products you eat. Try this resource to inform your choices on local, organic and environmentally-friendly animal products.
Striking the right balance
If you’re dieting for weight loss or simply want to maintain a healthy lifestyle, nutrition will play a major part. So what should you be eating?
For starters, increase the amount of seafood you consume. The NHS states that most people should add more fish to their diets, thanks to its high levels of protein and source of vitamins and minerals, particularly long-chain omega-3 fatty acids to boost heart health. Seafood also tends to have lower levels of fat and calories than meat, making it ideal for people who are trying to lose weight.
Most of us know we need to add more vegetables to our diets, thanks to their high levels of vitamins and minerals and generally low calories. A diet high in protein and vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, sweet potatoes – as well as beans and legumes – can help you to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
Find a diet designed for you
Whether you’re looking to completely overhaul your diet or simply want to lose some pounds to improve your health, the right diet will help. The AI Weight Loss Diet is designed to determine optimum levels of nutrition to activate fast fat loss, using artificial intelligence to create tailor-made meal plans based on an individual’s preferences and the science behind a weight loss diet. The system learns over time what meals a person likes, recommending other dishes based on consumer data, whilst maintaining a calorie deficit to lose weight.