When global leaders make statements about climate change, we wish they would do more. We judge our leaders, we sigh and we wish we could do something about the changing climate as well. The good news is that we can actually do something at our end that will help climate change at a personal level.
And what is this big thing that we can do, you ask? Change your diet. Yes, it indeed is as simple as that! While the results may not be radical, they can cumulatively have a very huge, positive effect. If you’re thinking of closing this page now as you’re never going vegan, please don’t. Though going vegan is the ideal solution, there are other ways of reducing your carbon footprint. Here’s why you should and how you can. Oh and confession, I’m not vegan myself! But I choose to know the facts and take responsibility for my choices. I cut down on meat and dairy as much as I can and aspire for more.
Here are just a few facts to know about climate change, that are related to our food habits.
Facts about Diets & Climate Change
- Animal agriculture accounts for around 51% of all greenhouse gas emissions globally, more than what all vehicles put together release. Read more on PETA’s website. A simple ‘Googling’ will get you scores of other articles and sources on the topic.
- Animal agriculture and clearing place for farming are the leading cause of deforestation worldwide. This in turn drives extinction due to climate change.
- Producing meat is energy inefficient as it takes about 7 kg grain to produce a kilogram of beef. Read more here.
- Meat based diets are much more carbon intensive than a vegan diet. Red meat has the highest carbon footprint, followed by dairy, fruit and chicken. Read more on Shrink That Footprint.
- 30% of available land on earth is in use to produce meat, dairy and eggs. (Source: United Nations)
- The world produces enough food to feed everyone. But due to rearing of animals for meat, dairy and eggs, half of the food grains produced are fed to animals, making Animal Farming one of the causes of world hunger. (Source FAO)
- 34-76 trillion gallons of water is used by animal agriculture every year. Think 1 Hamburger = 660 Gallons of water = Equivalent to showering for 2 months. Find tons of other facts here.
- To produce a pound of beef, 2,500 gallons of water is required. More here.
- Synthetic pesticides and fertilisers are made of fossil fuels which add directly and indirectly to emissions. Organic farmers use natural manure and this is much more energy efficient.
Now that you know these facts and figures, you simply can’t ignore them. More important than cutting fat or carbohydrates from your diet, carbon is something you should aim at reducing. When you reduce the carbon footprint of your diet, your health, along with the climate, benefits greatly.
Steps to Take
- Take one step at a time. Make small goals and ideally move towards a vegan lifestyle, one meal at a time. But even if you can’t cut out meat completely, remember that every bit helps. Reduce your meat intake. Start with Meatless Mondays. Give up that Hamburger once a month. And don’t worry, you can still get your protein from plant-based sources.
- Choose Organic produce as far as possible as this uses less fossil fuels in the form of fertilisers, binds more carbon in the soil and is therefore, more energy efficient.
- Choose Local as this cuts down transportation time and emissions that result thereof.
- Don’t waste any food produce as this means hunger for someone else. The less you waste the more everyone has to eat. EatRoamLive’s Project Takeaway urges people to avoid food wastage, in a very simple way.
- Have a small patch in your backyard (if you have one that is) where you can grow a bit of your food. Even a few small pots in that tiny planter area outside your condo’s living room can give you enough herbs for a small family.
- Switch to plant based milks as dairy production is a big cause of greenhouse gases.
- Take help of local resources. In Singapore, Animal Allies and Vegetarian Society Singapore have loads of information on their websites to help you make the most responsible choices. Wherever you are, there are many vegan societies and resources you can access online and they will be more than happy to show you the right way.
- The world is waking up to eating responsibly not just for climate change but also to show compassion for animals. The emphasis is on Reducing, Replacing and Refining our diets to be less dependant on animals. EarthFest, Singapore, is one such event that aims to raise awareness about sustainability and plant-based eating.
- EatRoamLive is an online resource for meat-free living in Singapore and beyond. Catch EatRoamLive & Project Takeaway at EarthFest where we spread the message of meat-free living and encourage eliminating wastage of food. (Psst email us for free tickets).
Once you decide you want to make positive, climate conducive changes to your diet, these tips should help you put your plan to action.
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Aditi Garg is a writer who loves to just write anything and everything; be it magazine cover stories, blogs, website content, trivia cards, copy, or poems & stories for kids of friends and family. Books, desserts & fashion are her guilty pleasures. Mother to two boys, and as the only girl in the house, she expects to be treated like a princess (which she mostly is, unless it is a choice between a cricket match and her). With an opinion about everything under the sun, an insatiable appetite to know and a stickler for detail, she keeps on her toes and is happiest that way.