Did you know that our diets can be one of the biggest impacts on the environment caused by our lifestyles? Studies have shown that food consumption can make up almost half of the annual carbon footprint in some countries, and is often similar to that caused by mobility and more than from the consumption of consumer goods.
A lot of this impact is due to beef, which consumes enormous amounts of land, water and energy for its production. One of the drivers of deforestation in recent years has been to clear land either for grazing by cows, or to grow soybeans to be used as animal feed. The impact of pork, chicken and other meats are also substantial but less than that of beef. One way of improving the situation is encouraging conversion to vegetarian or vegan diets. If taking that leap looks too daunting, then campaigns such as meatless Mondays or challenges to reduce the amount of meat in each meal can help people reduce some of their meat intake.
However, meat is such an integral part of so many people’s diets it is often considered unrealistic to push for a mass conversion to vegetarianism. Luckily, science is rapidly stepping in to fill this gap with a variety of start-up companies now developing lab-grown meat. Progress has accelerated in recent years with the cost of five ounces of meat (enough for a hamburger) dropping from US$325,000 in 2013 to US$11.36 in 2017. It is claimed that growing meat in labs could reduce related greenhouse gas emissions by 90% and land use by 99%.
Regardless of how food is produced, large amounts of greenhouse gases are released due to the energy used in packaging, transporting and storing food. Eating seasonal food grown locally is a great way of contributing to a reduced carbon footprint and supporting local businesses and livelihoods.
What else is there? Which policies, instruments, frameworks, projects or initiatives do you know about? Are there policies in your country, region or city addressing this? Are businesses thinking about low carbon diets? Do you know about or are you involved in projects in your community, school or business that are helping encourage low carbon diets?
If so, please let us know in our questionnaire.