Climate change is one of the most prominent issues of our time. Powered by our use of greenhouse gases, aerosol emissions and choice of land use, climate change is causing the earth's temperate to increase every year. While the weather getting slightly warmer may be attractive to some, the effects this slight yearly increase has on the planet is huge. The results of climate change include rising water levels, caused by melting sea ice and glaciers, leading to floods, increased risk of forest fires as well as its negative impact on biodiversity.
A lot of people are aware of some changes in their day to day lives that can reduce their carbon footprint such as walking instead of driving or recycling plastic. One less spoke about way to help the climate is becoming increasingly more popular is changing your diet.
How does the food you eat affect the planet?
Animal agriculture is a term used for animal farming which ‘refers to the breeding, raising and slaughter of animals for products intended for human use, as well as crops used to feed farmed animals’. Animal agriculture is responsible for 18% of world greenhouse gas emissions, compared to 13% caused by all forms of transportation combined. Choices being made to benefit the animal agriculture business is causing issues to climate change. Challenges such as the need for space to raise and support animals is leading to increased deforestation and the unsustainable amount of freshwater needed to for animals and the crops that feed them is contaminating the remaining freshwater. This highlights the power a change in your diet can have in doing your part to help the planet.
What can you do about it?
There are several ways in which you can choose a more sustainable diet. One diet that people opt for is a vegan diet. A vegan diet containing no meat and animal products is becoming increasingly popular, with the number of vegans in the UK quadrupling over 2014-2019. If the whole world were to go vegan, then the worlds food-related emissions would drop by 70% by 2050. This sounds like an easy solution however not everyone can go vegan due to allergies, not having the ability to choose vegan options or just generally not wanting to be vegan. This led to the sustainable diet phenomenon- a flexitarian diet.
A flexitarian diet is formed from the word’s ‘vegetarian’ and ‘flexible’, which is accurate to its definition of ‘a cross between full vegan and vegetarian with the ability to enjoy animal products every so often’. This diet encourages sustainably eating, with aim of a reduced consumption of meat and animal products, meaning they can still be consumed and aren’t completely eliminated. A flexitarian diet is more popular than a vegan diet, with 13% of brits adapting to this diet.
The increasing pressure on the importance of our food choices on climate change is a necessary step in the right direction towards helping our planet. Switching to a flexitarian diet is getting increasingly easier, with most restaurants having vegetarian food options, as well as the increase in choice of vegetarian options in supermarkets meaning there is clear opportunity to give it a try. whether it is a choice to slowly reduce consumption, starting off by once a week having a day where you reduce your meat intake- such as a ‘Meat-free Monday’, or the choice to go fully vegan, changing your diet to reduce your intake of products of animal agriculture is a step in helping reduce climate change.