Eat less meat and dairy:
Is it really so simple? Addressing complex issues like climate change may appear to be simple and obvious. We know that reducing greenhouse gas emissions and our individual and collective carbon footprint is vital, but there is not always a one size fits all solution. I suggest that it is not just about eating less meat and dairy, but more about knowing the source of the food you eat – how and where it is grown and processed.
If you eat meat and dairy on a daily basis which comes from factory or intensive farming systems, or most conventional farming systems, then the footprint of consumption will be relatively high. See some numbers here: https://www.52climateactions.com/eat-less-meat-and-dairy However if you purchase your meat and dairy from local regenerative farmers, you are actually helping in the process of land repair. To put it simply, land is managed to increase the amount of carbon stored in the soil, which has multiple benefits including water holding capacity and improved nutrition for the animals and ultimately the consumer. Try reducing the number of meat-based meals you consume each week, or the amount of meat in a meal. Buy less, but better quality.
While a plant-based diet does have a lower carbon footprint overall, growing crops and vegetables can still be energy intensive and reliant on inputs including pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers, and may be transported from across the planet and stored for months. If however, you can buy from a local farmer who is growing regeneratively and organically, then you will reduce your footprint even further, as well as supporting your local economy. Look for farmers’ markets or a community supported agriculture (CSA) system. Try a vegan or vegetarian option once or twice a week, which will be good for your health and budget.
Even better, have a go at growing some of your own vegetables and fruits. Even a small well managed garden bed can be surprisingly productive. If you live in an apartment try some potted herbs on a windowsill or seed sprouting in the kitchen, and add flavor and nutrition to your diet. Consider joining your local community garden or permaculture network for good advice and friendly people. Maybe consider keeping your own backyard hens or quail to provide eggs. (More on that coming in another post)
Waste less! Individually and collectively we throw out an extraordinary amount of food. Plan your meals and shopping. Embrace leftovers and turn them into next day’s lunch.
So, is there a simple solution? Not really. But by being aware of how and where your food is grown and processed means you can make better informed decisions.
Disclaimer: I am vegetarian and have been for all of my adult life. I eat some dairy, and eggs from my own well-spoiled hens. I’m not anti-meat and dairy, but I am pro producing food in the best way possible, for the land, people and animals.