Food that is good for you, and for the planet
How can turning to a healthier diet improve outcomes for both climate and health?
Over the Last 50 years, higher income countries have relied increasingly on processed foods,
fast food, sugar, and red meat for their diets. But this pattern has severe detrimental health and environmental effects and is not sustainable.
Avoid Processed Food
Eating more natural foods reduces the energy and transportation burden involved in the food production chain compared to processed foods which require significantly more steps. This leads to less greenhouse gas emissions, which is critical because agriculture currently accounts for roughly 25% of all emissions.
Switch your Protein
Beef and lamb are two of the most carbon-intensive foods when compared to other sources of animal-based protein. This is because ruminant animals are known to release higher levels of methane. Switching to alternative options such as fish, poultry, or beans can reduce associated greenhouse gas emissions by more than half without compromising dietary protein. Beans specifically require far less resources and land for their production.
Americans waste as much as 40% of our food unnecessarily. Adding food to landfills can contribute to global warming and greenhouse gases as the decomposition process leads to methane production.
Switching to a Climate-Healthy Diet Reduces Risk of Chronic Disease
Increasing vegetable intake and reducing red meat intake has been linked to significant reduction in risks of heart disease, diabetes, and total cancer incidence. These reductions are associated with lower blood pressure, weight, and “bad” cholesterol. There is often concern about missing key vitamins and minerals, but with proper supplementation, a high fruit and veggie and low meat diet is appropriate for almost anyone regardless of age, pregnancy status, or athletic requirements.
Tips for being a healthy consumer to help you save green
Try to incorporate some of following habits into your daily life to help reduce your carbon footprint!
Shop Local When You Can
Buying local not only supports the economy, but reduces emissions related to transportation and shipping of food and other goods. When shopping, try to use reusable bags for your groceries or other goods.
The fashion industry contributes to the climate crisis by using large amounts of water,
adding chemicals and plastic microfibers into our environment, and contributing to
carbon emissions from production and shipping.
Try shopping at local thrift or consignment stores, online thrift stores like thredUP, or
clothing rental programs. You can learn how to make sew or make simple
repairs to your clothing. When you want or need to buy new, here is a resource where you
can evaluate the environmental profile of a company.
Look into possible ways to switch your home to renewable energy like wind or solar. Minimize the amount of water you use during showers, cleaning dishes, or brushing your teeth by turning off faucets. Unplug electronics when they are not in use.
Depending on where you live, try to incorporate walking, biking, public transportation, or carpooling to minimize the emissions from cars. You may also consider an electric vehicle as they begin to become more available.
Some cleaning products either have hazardous chemicals or come in packaging that sits in landfills. Try to choose products that may come in bulk, with less packaging, can easily be recycled or use recycled materials in their packaging. Check for labels that indicate a product has minimal harmful chemicals. Check out the EPA’s guide on greener cleaning products for more detailed information
Take a second and calculate your carbon footprint to see the areas where you may be able to make a few small changes!