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Small Diet Changes Can Have a Big Environmental Impact

— November 21, 2023

Eating plant-based foods can help the planet, scientists say.

Each day, people are forced to make decisions about what foods they are going to eat. While it’s easy to take those decisions for granted, they are actually quite important for a number of different reasons. For example, food choices have a direct impact on physical health, with eating the right diet being one of the best ways to stay healthy in the long run. Also, making smart food choices can enable financial savings week after week, and those savings can add up in a big way by the end of a year. Beyond health and financial concerns, making strategic dietary choices can also help the environment. The kinds of foods people eat are closely related to the impact that agriculture has on the planet, so anyone with a mind toward protecting the environment should keep this factor on their radar, as well.

The best way to determine what kinds of foods should be consumed to benefit the planet, it’s a good idea to look at how much carbon is required to produce various food sources. By moving from high-carbon products to lower carbon options, each individual can make a positive difference. This information is easy to obtain from a variety of sources, so everyone can make their own decisions based on what they find in their research.

Small Diet Changes Can Have a Big Environmental Impact
Photo by Mark Stebnicki from Pexels

It’ll probably come as no surprise that plants are going to be far lower in terms of their carbon footprint than animal proteins. Of course, as a nice coincidence, consuming plants tends to be good for human health, so this can be a win-win situation. The kinds of adjustments to a diet that are going to benefit the earth are almost always the same kinds of changes that will benefit each individual.

When thinking about emissions and greenhouse gases, it’s easy to picture big factories working with harmful chemicals. However, food production plays a notable role in this picture – around 20% of greenhouse gases are released as a result of the food production process. That number indicates that there is a lot of room for improvement here, and even making marginal changes could make a significant dent in the problem. This is particularly true in the United States, as meat consumption in this country is particularly high. The meat that Americans eat comes at a high carbon cost, so there is room for improvement in this area that could positively impact the overall environment for generations to come.

As a general rule of thumb, eating plants is going to be good for the environment, while eating animals will have less of a positive impact. That doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone needs to stop eating meat entirely, however – even just cutting back on animal protein consumption could make a huge impact if adopted on a wide scale, and incorporating more plant-based foods can go a long way. Controlling and reversing climate change comes down to everyone doing their part and making minor adjustments that will move our collective future in a better direction.


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