The environmental impact of our food choices.
Written by: Jolanta Głowacz
The choices we make on a daily basis have an impact on the environment - including the food we eat.
Why is it better to include more plant-based foods in your daily diet?
Lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
Compared to animal foods, plant-based diets are associated with a lower emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Depending on the type of food, the differences vary. According to research, ruminants (cows, sheep and goats) seem to be the biggest problem. This is because they release more CO2 (this is associated with their digestive process). In general, livestock and shellfish contribute more to global warming than plants that are more climate-friendly food. As an example: the production of 1 kg of beef emits 60 kg of greenhouse gases, while the production of 1 kg of peas emits 1 kg of greenhouse gases (Ritchie H., Roser M., 2020).
Lower water consumption
Water is an essential and vital source of life. It is therefore not surprising that a large part of the planet's water is used for food production and agriculture (the latter actually uses 70% of the world's resources).
As the sources show, 20 times as much water is used to breed meat as it does in the production of grain. (Rosner J., 2019).
Lower land use
As seen with greenhouse gas emissions and water consumption, plant crops use far less soil for food production than animals. According to data in the area, the difference in land use per. Kg food as follows: tofu 3,5 m2; peas 7,5 m2; poultry meat 12,2 m2; beef (for meat) 326 m2 (Ritchie H., Roser M., 2020).
In addition to the sources used, I attach links to a few articles that further elaborate on the differences and environmental impacts of animal and plant-based diets.
Ritchie H., Roser M. Environmental Impacts of Food Production. 2020. Retrieved from Ourworldindata.org, October 2020.
Rosner J. How Our Food Choices Affect the Environment. 2019. Retrieved from soulfoodsalon.com, October 2020.
Eat Green: Our everyday food choices affect global warming and the environment.
Food choices, health and environment: Effects of cutting Europe's meat and dairy
Meat production and consumption: Environmental consequences.