Embark on a mission with me to find out the effects food has on our planet!
Author: Jimena (Young Reporter, Costa Rica)
Have you ever sat down to eat and wondered if what you're consuming has an impact on climate change? Well, it does. It is scientifically proven that the world's food system is responsible for about ¼ of the Earth-warming greenhouse gases generated by humans annually (Moskin, Plumer, Lieberman, Weingart, & Popovich, 2019). Livestock farming is the raising of animals, either for use, or pleasure.
Can you believe that this practice accounts for 14.5% of the world's greenhouse gases per year?! This means that raising, harvesting, packaging, and shipping all the products humans consume, from beef to kale, affects climate change, and not in a positive way! Evidently, some foods have a bigger impact than others, for example, beef and lamb have the biggest climate impact per gram, pork and chicken are intermediate and plant-based foods have the lowest impact. It's more economical to grow crops for humans to eat than growing crops for animals to eat so that humans can eat them.
Now, you and I both know that the vegan/ vegetarian lifestyle is very different from the omnivore lifestyle most of us manage, but this article doesn't have the purpose to make you vegan or vegetarian. What I intend to do with this article is reduce your meat consumption. Some people might think that only one person might not make a change, but they're wrong! Consuming less red meat and/or dairy will reduce your carbon footprint. Some food alternatives with a smaller footprint are chicken, eggs, mollusks, and pork; however, plant-based foods are the most friendly for the environment, some of these products are beans, soy, grains, and pulses. A sustainable food system may include plenty of animal products, but it has to be balanced, just like everything else in life. It is also important to remember that even if exploiting livestock for consumption is bad, this industry gives 1.3 billion people income worldwide, therefore, it can't be wiped out of existence. The biggest problem with meat consumption is the unnecessary demand for it, some people in places like the United States, Australia, and Europe eat more than the necessary amount, and commonly, around 20% of the food they buy ends up in the trash. If a person buys more than the amount they will consume, their climate footprint will be bigger than it should be.
Being able to help save the environment is really exciting, and it should be something all of us, the citizens of planet Earth, participate in. Therefore, we should all start to reduce our climate footprints; steak by steak. How can we do this? We can start by joining initiatives like no meat Monday, which implies not consuming meat on Mondays (as the name suggests); or reducing our meat demand by including plant-based foods like seitan and jackfruit among others in our diets. In addition, we can start consuming almond, oat, and coconut milk instead of actual dairy products. If none of the suggestions resonated with you, I invite you to look for more alternatives and recipes! If we all cut back a little bit on our meat consumption, the world would be happier and so would we.
Moskin, J., Plumer, B., Lieberman, R., Weingart, E., & Popovich, N. (2019, April 30). Your questions about food and climate change answered. Retrieved June 01, 2021, from https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/04/30/dining/climate-change-food-eating-habits.html