Food Footprints

January 25th, 2019 | Posted in Uncategorized

One Effective Way to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

A 2018 study found that meat and dairy products are responsible for 75% of greenhouse emissions from the EU diet (1). The study found that the average EU citizen has a food footprint of 1070 kg of CO2 per year, roughly equivalent to driving 6,000 km. 

What Causes Carbon Emissions?

The researchers compared a range of agricultural products from different origins. The production of meat and dairy products causes direct emissions from animal production, as well as contributing to deforestation when trees are cleared to grow animal feed, which is often produced outside the EU.

Perhaps surprisingly, the study found that emissions related to the international trade of food were marginal compared to other sources.

Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Other studies have found that greenhouse gas emissions are 29% less in vegetarian diets and 47-60% less for vegetarian/vegan diets than omniverous diets with the equivalent number of calories (2).

These findings could be useful for policy makers as well for climate-conscious consumers proving that eating less meat and dairy is one of the key actions individuals can take to reduce their climate footprint.

Local or Low Meat

Whilst there are many good reasons for eating locally produced food, when it comes to reducing our carbon footprints what we eat may be more important. Reducing meat and dairy consumption and eating more plant foods, including locally grown vegetables, is one of the most powerful things we can do for the environment.  

Better Health, Better Planet

Another study shows that most nations recommend reducing the consumption of animal products in their National Dietary Recommendations (NDRs) due to the beneficial outcomes for human health (3). It turns out that what is better for humans is also better for the environment.

So for the sake of your own health and the planet consider stretching veganuary into veguary and beyond.

For information on the health benefits of a vegan diet see blog post Go Vegan, Go Healthy, and for inspirational recipes see Tasty Vegan Recipes.


Journal References:

  1. Vilma Sandström, Hugo Valin, Tamás Krisztin, Petr Havlík, Mario Herrero, Thomas Kastner. The role of trade in the greenhouse gas footprints of EU diets. Global Food Security, 2018; 19: 48
  2. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2018 Oct 2. Health and sustainability outcomes of vegetarian dietary patterns: a revisit of the EPIC-Oxford and the Adventist Health Study-2 cohorts. Segovia-Siapco G, Sabate J.
  3. Paul Behrens, Jessica C. Kiefte-de Jong, Thijs Bosker, João F. D. Rodrigues, Arjan de Koning, Arnold Tukker. Evaluating the environmental impacts of dietary recommendations. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2017; 201711889