EAT FOR EARTH (Part 1)
The science tells us we need to slash the meat and dairy to help tackle climate change. Here’s what New Zealand has found.
IN A 2020 STUDY, University of Otago researchers developed a New Zealand-specific food emissions database for 346 commonly eaten foods. The database calculated the total emissions for each food and considered each part of the food’s lifecycle, such as farming and processing, transportation, packaging, warehouse and distribution and refrigeration needs for chilled products.
When they looked at the greenhouse gas emissions of the different foods, they found:
> Beef and lamb (ruminant animals) were the biggest culprits.
> Processed meats, butter and shellfish were also high emitters.
> A vegan diet with no food waste had the lowest climate impact – it decreased emissions by 42%.
Senior author Alex Macmillan said the main contributor to red meat emissions is farming plus processing, Consumer NZ reports.
IN A 2021 STUDY in the British Medical Journal Nutrition, Prevention & Health, scientists compared the cost and climate impact of 4 diets for a family of 4 in New Zealand (NZ) over a fortnight.
The 4 diets were: (1) the current NZ diet (2) a healthy diet that meets the NZ healthy eating guidelines (3) flexitarian diet (primarily vegetarian with occasional meat and fish) and (4) vegan (no animal products).
Here’s what they found:
DIET AVERAGE EMISSIONS (CO2e)
The vegan diet was again found to be a greener diet. The current NZ diet generates nearly 3 times the emissions of the vegan diet.
Next: 3 Ways to Eat Sustainably
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