It’s time for a global change in how and what we eat – if we’re going to put the brakes on the rise in CO2 levels.
During COVID we all changed our behaviour dramatically and this meant we seen an unprecedented drop of 5.4% in CO2 levels in 2020. But now things are returning to normal, global carbon dioxide emissions are bouncing back to pre-Covid levels.
In September 2018, the United Nations Environment Programe (UNEP) named meat “the world’s most urgent problem.” UNEP stated: “Our use of animals as a food-production technology has brought us to the verge of catastrophe.” “The greenhouse gas footprint of animal agriculture rivals that of every car, truck, bus, ship, airplane, and rocket ship combined,” UNEP stated.
Livestock farming is responsible for 18% of all anthropogenic (human-caused) greenhouse gas emissions. According to Scientific American, plant-based food creates drastically fewer emissions than animal-based food. To produce half a pound of beef, the emission output is equivalent to driving a car 9.8 miles. To produce half a pound of potatoes, the emissions equate to driving the same car 0.17 miles.
Beef production is to blame for six times more greenhouse gas emissions than peas, a primary ingredient in many vegan products.
What we eat greatly influences our personal health and the global environment. Imbalanced diets, such as diets low in fruits and vegetables, and high in red and processed meat, are a burden on global health. At the same time the food system is also responsible for more than a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions, and therefore a major driver of climate change. Oxford University researchers concluded that going vegan is the most influential thing one can do to help to fight climate change.
How can you and your family switch to a more sustainable and climate friendly diet?
1.Buying from your local farmer allows you to support local agriculture. This means that the food you are eating comes from nearby and does not require to waste lots of energy and petroleum to ship the food halfway around the world.
2.By shopping at the local farmers market, you will eat seasonally, fresh, and ripe produce. This is a great way to increase your overall health. Supermarkets offer variety, but the food is picked before it has ripened and can decrease the vitamin and nutrient content.
3. There are some risks in large industrial settings, where masses of food are produced, preserved and bagged in large quantities. Remember the outbreaks of e-coli in bagged salad and spinach – it can happen on large or small scale remember though!
4. The food from your local farmers market fresher. Because it has grown locally, there is a good chance that the apples you buy from the farmer was picked a few days ago.
5.Introduce “Meatless Monday” dinners by creating healthy delicious food by using seasonal vegetables and fruits.
6.Take small steps to reduce your animal protein consumption by making it your side dish instead of the main dish. Fill your plate mainly with grains, vegetables and add only a small amount of animal protein.
7.Reduce your food waste – buy less and prepare only the food you are going to eat. The average household throws away about 30 percent of the food they buy.
8.Check the labels on the food you buy and look out for Fairtrade (protecting Farmers), Freedom Food (animal welfare), MSC and ASC (seafood) and RSPO certified sustainable palm oil.
9.Grow your own food! You don’t need a big garden to produce your own food. Pots and containers are great ways to produce food that is free from the carbon footprint of shop-bought food!
Another great factor of reducing your meat consumption is that you can experience with so many new foods and flavors. One particular flavor is the “Umami” flavor which is the fifth “taste” alongside sweet, bitter, sour, and salty. Much like the primary colors of the food world, these five basic tastes are the building block of flavor.
Mushrooms are a wonderful plant-based option to mimic that “meaty” Umami flavor our tastebuds like. You can create the delicious umami flavor with making your own mushroom stock and use it wherever the recipe calls for stock, like risotto, cook it with lentils, quinoa or couscous. When making a mushroom stock, be sure to add dried mushrooms, since the pack a bunch more flavor than fresh ones. You can use shitake mushrooms and simple bring to boil and let simmer for as long as you can. The longer you let is simmer the more flavorful it gets.
* 2021 United Nations Environment Programme
Barbara Donnelly. Barbara is a Certified Health and Wellness Coach, Holistic Nutritionist, certified Personal Trainer and Callanetics Instructor. www.bhealthyeatwhole