One of the reasons I choose a vegan diet is to lower my carbon footprint. As information spreads, people are starting to be aware that what you eat and where it comes from has an impact on the planet. A vegan diet is commonly acknowledged to be one of the ways that is most effective at lowering your carbon footprint. Evidence around this has come to light in films such as Cowspiracy, which tackles the meat and dairy industry from an environmental standpoint and looks at the amount of pollution and resources used in different diets.
In addition to this, I am co-facilitating a course called Carbon Conversations. In this course a group of 6-12 people come together and look at aspects of their lives, how carbon intensive they are and whether through learning and support we can reduce our carbon footprints. The course covers travel, home energy, consumption, friends and family, systems change and, of course, food.
With the book In time for tomorrow? (by Rosemary Randall and Andy Brown) as our excellent guide, we look at what foods have the lowest impact and what the challenges with that are. In the book there is a pyramid diagram, with fruit and vegetables at the bottom and heavily processed foods such as pizzas and packaged meals as well as meat, dairy and fish at the top, indicating these foods have the highest impact on the environment.
A chapter in the book also gives some common sense but useful advice on how else to lower your footprint. I would like to replay those tips to you!
Firstly – Buy Local! (or even better, grown your own). In a supermarket culture, seasons are never ending and food is imported from all over the world, so trying to buy food produced in your country and in season will really help lower your footprint. It will say on the packaging where the food is sourced from. The further afield, the more air miles, the higher the carbon footprint.
Secondly, try to cook more from scratch, pre-packaged food like pizza takes a lot of energy to produce and are increasingly common in fast-paced, consumerist societies.
And thirdly, of course, steer clear of meat, dairy and fish as much as possible. As the resources and carbon emissions in the rearing and production process of these industries is huge. The land required, the water, feed and energy dwarf the growing of fruit and vegetables by comparison…not to mention the high level of methane and sewage the meat and dairy industries generate.
To end this blog, I would like to point you to a useful tool in relation to food…
Laura’s Larder is a very good tool for evaluating you weekly food intake. It gives you many options with food choices and lets you map out what you eat, what the impact is and whether you are getting the nutrients you need. I highly recommend giving it a try and at the end it shows that overall a vegan diet will produce roughly half the emissions of the average person in the UK.
If you have any thoughts or questions, please feel free to comment below, and until next time…Thanks for reading!