Did you know that what’s on your plate contributes more to your carbon footprints than the car you drive?

A carbon footprint is the measure of greenhouse gases (including carbon dioxide and methane) released into the atmosphere by a person’s lifestyle and activities. Well, most people assume that their carbon footprint or their contributions to climate change is related to their use of electricity or what they drive. We were concerned about the fossil fuels and miles per gallon and even about LED lights, but not so much about the food we eat! But recent studies showed that the biggest threat to climate change is what is on our plate. Just as there are certain foods that can affect human health, there are foods that potentially harm our planet.

Keep reading to learn more about how the food we eat affects our planet and what you can do to help reduce the harm.

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The Impact of Our Diet on Climate Change
According to The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), our food systems account for roughly one quarter of all manmade greenhouse gas emissions which is more than the contribution of the entire transportation sector. No matter where you purchase your food from or what you choose to eat, your diet does have a significant impact on the environment. Everything we eat whether it is vegetables or meat has some effect on global heating. But perhaps the biggest problem is with the livestock. They use a third of global cropland and contribute significantly to global greenhouse gas emissions.

A new study published in the scientific journal Science comprehensively analyzed the negative impact of agriculture and livestock on the environment, and found that the environmental impact of animal products exceeds that of plant products. The global meat and milk production are responsible for 60% of greenhouse gas emissions. Feed production and processing of meat and dairy products contributes to deforestation, biodiversity loss and declining water tables. However, these animal-based products account only for 37% of protein and 18% of calories in the diet. Additionally, the livestock such as cows, goats, and sheep, release methane gas which is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere over 100 years.
As the increased consumption of meat and dairy products is fueling global warming, plant-based diet is the best way to reduce an individual’s environmental footprint.

Plant-Based Diet – A Better Alternative
According to a study, following a plant-based diet can be the “single biggest measure” to be taken to reduce environmental pollution. A plant-based diet consists of mainly foods that are derived from plants such as vegetables, fruits, grains, seeds, and nuts. The elimination of animal-based products from the diet could go a long way in helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Researchers at the University of Oxford found that by cutting meat and dairy products one can reduce their carbon footprint by up to 73%. A plant-based diet has the lowest carbon footprint at just 1.5 tons of carbon dioxide. Following a plant-based diet also has health benefits as they lower the risk of getting heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and cancer.

Tips That Can Help Lower Your Carbon Footprint
Changes in your diet and lifestyle can have a big impact on your carbon footprint. These dietary changes can help reduce pollution, preserve the environment, and slow global warming. Many of these changes will also help you save you money, improve your health and keep you fit!

Here are some ways to lower your carbon footprint:
Eat food items that are low on the food chain as they are beneficial to your health as well as to the environment.
Eat less meat, if your current diet is meat-rich.
Bring back home-cooking; discover the simple pleasures of preparing and eating your own meals.
Reduce your food waste; plan your meals ahead to reduce wastage.
Encourage sustainable organic farms, organic foods are better for you and the environment.

You Can Help Stop Climate Change!
Food is a basic human need, and to eat is a fundamental human right. But it is time to make healthy and sustainable diets affordable and accessible for everyone, while nurturing the planet at the same time. You can help stop the climate change with your dietary choices. A modest shift towards plant-based diets can have a big impact on your carbon footprint.

Reference:
Calculate your carbon footprint. https://www.nature.org/en-us/get-involved/how-to-help/carbon-footprint-calculator/ . Accessed on: 23-11-2020.
Experts: How do diets need to change to meet climate targets? . https://www.carbonbrief.org/experts-how-do-diets-need-to-change-to-meet-climate-targets . Accessed on: 23-11-2020.
Fight Climate Change by Going Vegan. https://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-food/global-warming/ . Accessed on: 23-11-2020.
Eating plant-based diets can play a huge role in limiting the effects of climate change. https://bioneers.org/eating-plant-based-diets-can-play-huge-role-limiting-effects-climate-change-ze0z1709/ . Accessed on: 23-11-2020.

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