‘Go Green!’ We happily post this slogan on social media, and then bring our own bottles to work. It is good to see that environmental issues have attracted more attention from the wider population, but there are still more things that we can do – like changing our daily eating habits.
As astonishing as it may sound, the food we eat has damaging effects on our environment, from greenhouse gas emissions to deforestation, high water consumption, eutrophication, overuse of pesticides, and more.
Livestock is known to be responsible for 9% of human-caused CO2 emissions, 37% of human-caused methane emissions, and 65% of man-made nitrous oxide emissions. Meat and dairy have a remarkably high water footprint, as one kilogram of beef consumes 15,414 litres of water, which is nearly 50 times the amount of water required to plant one kilogram of cucumbers.
Roughly 7% of all Britons, which is approximately 3.5 million people, made the decision to cut out all meat and dairy in 2017 in an effort to help save the planet. While this is a tremendous step forward, it is also important to consider the negative impacts the consumption of certain vegetables may have on the planet: importing avocados or mangos from exotic locations to the UK may produce more greenhouse gases than having our own chicken coup; planting crops and coffee trees can accelerate the speed of deforestation; overuse of harmful pesticides or fertilisers may destroy the soil and further lead to eutrophication.
Therefore, the key to adapting our diets to benefit the environment does not necessarily lie in cutting out meat and dairy entirely, but in giving our grocery list a second thought and considering how our food is damaging the planet. Compared to installing a solar panel on the roof of a house, changing our daily shopping and eating habits is simpler but also requires persistence. Next time, when we bring our own bottles to work, let’s also ‘go local, go organic’ on our food choice.
Based on thorough research and scientific data, GreenMatch has provided 5 actionable ways for us to make a change:
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