When you choose and buy your food do you have the environment and environmental impact of that food in your mind?
Personally, i don’t. I eat vegan and just sort of think that’s enough because according to studies, meat and dairy production are the highest contributors to environmental damage. They use the most water and also release alot of Co. Meat and dairy production use alot of resources to raise the livestock, so for a packet of bacon or steak filet there is ALOT of resources and environmental impact compared to other food.
“Emissions from the production of beef and lamb are 250 times higher than those from legumes, per gram of protein, and pork and poultry are 40 times higher than legumes. A large amount of methane and nitrous oxide, gases that are more than 20 times and 250 times more powerful than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas, are generated through livestock-raising activities.” Source
Also many argue that soybeans aren’t environmentally friendly but the truth is that the majority of soybean production actually goes to feeding livestock, and not to human consumption. (Source)
According to Livsmedelsverket.se:
“Animal production accounts for almost a fifth of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions.”
Cattle and sheep produce, (5-40 kg greenhouse gases/kg meat.
“Transportation can also generate greenhouse gases. Since keeping livestock in itself generates such large quantities of emissions, the proportion that comes from transportation is comparatively small. At the same time, large volumes of feed and meat are transported, and meat also needs to be kept refrigerated during transportation. Overall, this does have an impact on total greenhouse gas emissions. ” X
Some say that you can’t really be an environmentalist and not be vegan (or atleast eat plant based) because of the huge impact meat consumption has on the environment.
All food production has an environmental impact and you could say that, the more you eat the more impact you have. Unless you grow your own crops and use solar power for energy. You could also say that the more processed a food the more resources used as there are more steps involved in making the food than if it is just an “ingredient”
Food production uses water, energy, different resources (such as heat, lighting, chemicals etc) as well as transportation is required.
As the demand for food increases it has an impact on the environment, and due to the use of chemicals and fertilizers used during the growth of vegetables and fruit, the soil is less rich in nutrients than in the past. Infact, now a days we are getting less nutrients in our food compared to before. Such as with iodine, that is found in the soil. In the past it wasn’t a problem to get enough iodine through root vegetables, but now a days the soil and root vegetables isn’t always a reliable source of iodine and instead using iodized salt is recommended.
A vegan diet is the most environmentally friendly according to many studies, However certain plant based foods aren’t as good (from an environmental perspective) compared to others. Example:
- Almonds [and other almond based products] Uses ALOT of water to be produced, and California, where there has been drought and water shortage at times, is where most almonds are grown. (According to the Gaurdian: It takes 1.1 gallons (5 litres) of water to grow one almond, and thanks to the big profits they bring in, almond orchards continue to be planted (this isn’t to say cow’s milk, which takes about 100 litres of water to produce 100ml of milk, is more environmentally friendly – more that its production is not concentrated in one area of the globe). Also the almond production is harming honey bees as the almond trees need to be pollinated, you can see more about this in the netflix Documentary, Rotten.
- Avocados (Requires alot of water to produce [ it takes 72 gallons of water to grow a pound of avocados] , as well as needing to be transported. And the demand of avocados has lead to illegal deforestation due to the demand of avocados) Source Avocados are also grown in California, which as mentioned above, can go through times of drought, so the huge requirement of water for the avocados isn’t sustainable.
- Soy beans: The production of soybeans has lead to deforestation in several countries that produce this bean, “almost 4 million hectares of forests are destroyed every year.” X HOWEVER, as mentioned earlier, the vast amount of soybeans actually go to feeding livestock… so when you eat meat it is like an extra negative environment impact as they consume soybeans which could have infact been eaten by humans instead.
- Foods with palm oil (I’ve written mote about this HERE).
Also foods such as cashews and quinoa aren’t the best either, though that has alot to do with the increasing demand of those foods that have caused problems for the workers who pick/harvest those foods and that they can no longer afford to eat those foods in their own country.
Also certain foods you should choose organic as much as possible: bananas, cacao/chocolate, coffee beans
The best tips to minimize environmental impact from your food choices:
- Choose local and in season produce as much as possible. I.e buying fresh mango, strawberries and watermelon during winter in Sweden isn’t so environmentally friendly.
- Buy from local markets if possible
- Buying big pack is both cheaper & less packaging
- Buy organic if possible (Excess fertiliser use is one of the biggest causes of pollution in our oceans Source)
- Don’t throw away food/limit food waste
My opinion is that we choose our battles and we can’t fight all of them. I.e you still need to be realistic and practical and be able to live life. I.e just eating vegan makes a huge difference, and maybe you can’t always choose organic or you eat almonds and avocados weekly.
Or maybe you have a bunch of allergies and it’s hard enough to just buy food that you can actually eat, yet alone trying to find environmentally friendly and local products.
Small changes make a difference and that’s my mindset. Maybe i don’t always make the best food choices seen from what’s best for environment . But i can become more aware and learn and try my best. I will still eat quinoa, avocados and cashews but i think being more aware of where my food is coming from is important!
Do you have any tips, advice or thoughts on this topic?
Some more links/resources:
Powerpoint: ** recommend looking at!