Dietary Implications on the Environment
Many foods we eat every day such as red meat, chocolate, and soy have harmful impacts on the environment. The production of these foods leaves a large carbon footprint, contributes to deforestation, and releases harmful chemicals and pesticides into the Earth. Although it may not be realistic to cut out entire food groups for the sake of the environment, there are smaller changes you can make to your diet to minimize your carbon footprint and environmental impact.
The meat production industry is perhaps the greatest contributor to carbon emissions and deforestation. Producing one kilogram of beef emits 60 kilograms of greenhouse gases, mostly methane, and requires 900 gallons of water. If you multiply this by the amount of red meat produced all over the world daily, it is apparent that the meat production industry has massive environmental implications. Raising cattle contributes to 3.7 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and requires a large amount of land as well, resulting in mass deforestation.
There are a few alternatives to eating red meat that can reduce your impact on the environment. Opting for a vegetarian diet is the most environmentally friendly solution, but that is unrealistic for many people. Thus one alternative is to reduce red meat consumption and eat poultry instead. According to a recent study, beef production is responsible for four to eight times the amount of carbon emissions than poultry production, proving that poultry is a more environmentally friendly option. People who find themselves unable to cut out red meat from their diets may want to consider meat substitutes like Beyond Meat and Impossible Burger. They taste very similar to real beef, but they are 100% vegetarian!
Agriculture is a leading producer of greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for 19 to 29 percent of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. Growing inorganic crops is especially harmful to the environment due to the use of harmful pesticides and fertilizers that negatively affect wildlife. Furthermore, agriculture contributes to deforestation. Chocolate, almonds, and soy are some examples of foods that require a lot of land to be cleared in order to be grown. From 2000 to 2014, the amount of land used to cultivate cacao beans increased by 37%, which caused mass deforestation and destruction of natural habitats in the Amazon Rainforest. Almonds require more water to cultivate than any other crop, about 17 times as much water than cow milk.
When possible, it is always a more eco-friendly alternative to buy produce from small farmers or buy organic produce that doesn’t use pesticides. Also, cutting down consumption of foods such as red meat, chocolate, soy, and almond milk can reduce your impact on the environment.