Countries with diets high in plant-based foods have lower carbon footprint than America
Since 1970, April 22 has been dedicated as a day to learn about important environmental issues. This year’s Earth Day is especially charged as the March for Science will take place during the annual holiday in Washington D.C. Led by scientists and those who strive to advance new research, the event was planned in response to science budget cuts. But you don’t have to march on Washington to do your part in helping the environment. Instead, challenge yourself by adopting an environmentally-friendly diet for the week. Not only is it good for the environment, but it’s good for your health, too.
Start by making these three simple changes:
Cut Down On Frozen Food
Frozen meals are fast if you’re short on time, but that convenience comes with an environmental cost. The University of California Berkeley cites the paperboard or plastic trays from those TV dinners as an environmental hazard as they can stay in landfills for decades or even centuries. Some companies are using recycled or lighter materials, but many packaged foods are higher in sodium, so it’s best to cut down on them anyway.
Eat What’s In Season
Sure, you might be craving strawberries in the middle of winter, but if it’s not in season where you live (and it’s probably not!) then a lot of resources are required to transport it to your local grocery store. As How Stuff Works explains, when you buy something that’s not in season locally, it’s picked before ripe so it stays fresh on its journey across the country (or even another country entirely). Once in your neighborhood, it’s likely placed in a warehouse and gassed with ethylene to ripen. Plus, factor in the costs of emissions from transportation, and the environmental costs are high. Eating local, in-season produce is also easier on your wallet.
Skip The Beef
The most sustainable diets are those that are heavy on the veggies and light on meat. According to the University of California Berkeley, Spanish diets have a significantly lower carbon footprint than the United States or United Kingdom due to the country’s lower consumption of meat. Beef in particular produces more greenhouse gasses than plant-based foods. If you must have meat, opt for chicken, which only produces about one quarter of the carbon dioxide that beef does per 2 pounds.