The Food System and Greenhouse Gases
The world’s food system is responsible for about one-quarter of the planet-warming greenhouse gases. That includes raising and harvesting all the plants, animals and animal products we eat, beef, chicken, pork, fish, milk, and produce, as well as the processing, packaging, and shipping food to markets all over the world. Millions of people in the US, Europe, Australia and more recently affluent parts of Asia and Russia are eating more meat than they need for a healthy diet, according to a recent report in the Lancet (Vol 2, Issue 10, Oct 1, 2018). To feed an expanding world population without adding to global warming, it would make a significant difference if the heaviest meat eaters cut back. Meat and dairy, particularly from cows, have the greatest impact, with livestock accounting for 14.5% of greenhouse gases each year. That
is about the same amount or more as emissions from all of the world’s cars, trucks, trains, and ships, combined (Moskin and Plumer, NYT, May 1, 2019).
Steps to follow to Eat to Beat Climate Change:
- Identify how dramatic a change you can handle and for how long.
- Enlist family, friends, and associates to join you; reminding them that Eating for Health is also Eating to Beat Climate Change.
- Eat substantially less red meat and dairy products (<20% of food consumed)
- Cut back on lamb, pork, poultry, and eggs by 50%.
- Add vegetable protein source such as legumes, seeds, nuts, whole grains, sea vegetables.
- Double your intake of fresh, local, seasonal fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.
- Eat as much S.O.U.L (seasonal, organic, unprocessed and local) food and beverage as you can.
- Aim to eat as much food as possible that is free of plastic wrapping.
- Host Eat for Health – Beat Climate Change pot lucks at work and in your community.
- Teach by example! Minimize judgment, maximize love and sharing good food.
The Benefits of Adopting a Plant-Based Diet
If we all adopt the kind of plant-based diet as suggested above, by 2050, it is estimated that we will witness a 10% drop in mortality, a 70% drop in greenhouse emissions, and a $31 trillion increase in economic benefit. (Lancet, Planetary Health, Dept. of Zoology, University of Oxford, England, Oct 2018). Dr. Bauman encourages us to take the lead with
our own food choices to support a predominantly whole food, plant-based diet. In doing this, the media, agriculture, markets, restaurants, and finally our own USDA and World Food Organizations will get on board to rally people to eat to slow not only climate change but preventable and costly disease related to eating a meat-based, processed food diet. When we change our food, we change our mood and culture.