I’m convinced we need to do our part in fighting climate change and restore a more healthy environment. It’s definitely too late but everybody should contribute. The New York Times has a great overview on food impact on CO₂ emissions.
Does what I eat have an effect on climate change?
The world’s food system is responsible for about one-quarter of the planet-warming greenhouse gases that humans generate each year. That includes raising and harvesting all the plants, animals and animal products we eat — beef, chicken, fish, milk, lentils, kale, corn and more — as well as processing, packaging and shipping food to markets all over the world. If you eat food, you’re part of this system.
Is there a simple food choice I can make that would reduce my climate footprint?
Consuming less red meat and dairy will typically have the biggest impact for most people in wealthy countries. That doesn’t necessarily mean going vegan. You might just eat less of the foods with the biggest climate footprints, like beef, lamb and cheese.
It also contains some counterintuitive wisdom
But many other types of cheese, such as Cheddar or mozzarella, can have a significantly bigger footprint than chicken or pork, since it typically takes about 10 pounds of milk to make one pound of cheese.
Wait — cheese might be worse than chicken?
It depends on the cheese. But broadly speaking, yes, if you decide to go vegetarian by, say, eating cheese instead of chicken, your carbon footprint might not fall as much as you expect.
And finally a common misconception:
In general, packaging makes up only about 5 percent of global food-related emissions. What you eat matters a lot more for climate change than the packaging it comes in.