Being aware of what you’re consuming is key to making environmentally aware choices in your daily life. The food we eat (and waste!) equates to 3.2 tonnes CO2e per person per year in the UK. Your food footprint is entirely manageable through the choices you make.
For example, if you stopped eating meat all together you could make a 35% reduction in these greenhouse gas emissions. Plant-based alternatives, often made with soya protein, are a great low-carbon substitute. But if vegetarianism isn’t for you, reducing the amount and type of meat you eat can also make a substantial difference – this is increasingly known as flexitarianism.
The impact on your carbon footprint could be striking: from field to checkout:
- Beef: 25 kg CO2e per kilo
- Lamb: 15.5 kg CO2e per kilo
- Pork: 10 kg CO2e per kilo
- Poultry: 4.05 kg CO2e per kilo
- Fish: 2.8 kg CO2e per kilo
As illustrated beef is generally the most carbon intensive meat choice with an estimated 25 kg CO2e per kilo, compared to fresh fish with only an estimated 2.8 kg CO2e per kilo. With almost 10 times less carbon imagine the difference you can make bu simply selecting fish on the menu!
However, greenhouse gases are not the only side of the story, and there are other environmental and ethical impacts to consider; namely reading food labels to check that your meat is sustainably sourced and not transported from the other side of the world (known as food miles).
By eliminating your food waste, you could make a further 12% reduction, and save yourself money. Swapping fruit and veg grown in hot-houses or air-freighted to the UK for local, seasonal varieties could offer a 5% reduction in emissions. From a "food miles" perspective shipped or frozen produce is also a good low carbon alternative versus air-freight, as the emissions per individual piece is far reduced.
As per the meat example above the same principle applies when buying fruit in the supermarket and again the difference is quite staggering with an orange (90 g CO2e) having up to 9 times more carbon when compared to a locally sourced apple (10g CO2e).