There are several ways that you can lower your impact on the environment, such as through purchasing clothes made from sustainable fabrics. In addition to your wardrobe, you can also look to your plate to find ways to decrease how your presence is felt by the environment.
When it comes to how much they affect the environment, the consequences of producing different foods varies wildly. Agriculture will inevitably always affect the environment in some way, and the key to striving towards sustainability is to make small positive choices that eventually amount to a larger change.
The main environmental issues associated with food production are:
- Climate change
- A decrease in natural resources
Let’s take a look at which foods are the least harmful to the planet and which foods leave the largest footprint!
As far as environmentally friendly foods go, lentils are one of the top choices. Lentils are edible pulses that are primarily grown in India, Australia and Canada. There are many different types of lentils available – all of which are incredibly nutritious!
It is estimated that every kilogram of lentils produced is responsible for just 0.9kg of CO2*. When we consider that the same amount of lamb is responsible for approximately 36kg of CO2 then we can observe just how environmentally friendly lentils are!
One of the most amazing things about broccoli is that it has its own natural defence against pests. This means that farmers can grow the delicious crop without having to rely too much on chemical help to keep their plants protected. Pesticides are not only damaging to the environment but can also be harmful to those consuming the foods on which they have been used!
Lamb is arguably the most resource intensive food to produce. This is largely due to the methane emissions from the animals themselves and it is important to note that methane is as much as 25 times more harmful than CO2*!
The resources that go into making the food to sustain livestock is another reason that farming animals for meat is not eco-friendly. Also, lambs are slaughtered for meat before they become fully grown sheep. This means that the amount of meat that they provide is relatively small, especially when compared with the majority of farm animals that are fully grown before being used for meat.
Second only to lamb, beef is another environmentally damaging meat. Each kilogram of beef produced is responsible for approximately 27kg of CO2*. Furthermore, this type of red meat requires as much as 160 times more land to produce than staple plant foods*!
What’s The Answer?
As you can see, the most environmentally damaging foods are those that are derived from animals. In fact, 18% of greenhouse gas emissions come from animal agriculture*. If you think that this does not sound like a large number then consider that this is more than the combined greenhouse gas emissions of all types of transportation! A massive 32,000 million tons of CO2 are created every year by livestock and associated animal byproducts, such as dairy and leather.
Making the conscientious decision to include less meat in your diet is one of the best things that you can do for the health of the planet, alongside making sustainable choices in other areas of your life. The clothes that you wear, the modes of transport you take, and the food that you choose to consume will all contribute to your carbon footprint.
Opting to include an increased amount of plant-based foods in your diet is a great way to support a decrease of your intake of animal products. When you include a wide variety of plant-based foods, you have the potential to enhance your health in countless ways – as well as helping the health of the planet!