New research from the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) demonstrates that if we want a more sustainable food system, we need to change what it is we eat.
The results of the study, published in a report launched today (18 July) – People, Plate and Planet – show that halving food waste reduces overall greenhouse gas emissions by 13-25 percent.
The report also says that plastic bag waste, which has been highlighted as an important environmental concern, makes up less than half a percent of the overall food-related emissions.
The report goes on to state that greenhouse gas emissions from our food systems can be reduced by over 40 percent by changing what it is we eat in the UK.
It says that be making the average diet in the UK more “healthy” by following nutritional guidelines would cut greenhouse gas emissions by 19 percent.
Laura Blake, nutritionist, researcher and author of the report states: “It’s still a good idea to discourage plastic bag use, but that’s not where the most significant impact can be made.
Laura Blake, author of the report – “It’s still a good idea to discourage plastic bag use, but that’s not where the most significant impact can be made”
“Even just moving to a more healthy diet – including not over-consuming, which is currently contributing to huge health problems in the UK today – reduces emissions, helping tackle climate change. The best way to eat sustainably is to completely avoid meat and dairy products, but eating more sustainably doesn’t have to mean going vegan. Choosing white meats over red meat can significantly reduce emissions. Overall, we show that there are many ways of eating more healthily that reduce emissions significantly.”
The report is partnered with Laura’s Larder – a new web-based tool that allows people to input all their dietary choices over a week and calculate both whether it is meeting their nutritional requirements and what the environmental impact of it is in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.
“Its really important that we make sure we’re eating a diet that is healthy for both people and planet, which is why we’ve designed this tool. We hope it will help people make positive changes to their diets, in a way that suits them,” states Laura.
The research comes from the Zero Carbon Britain project at CAT, which launched a report last year – Zero Carbon Britain: Rethinking the Future – which demonstrates how dietary change forms an integral part of a decarbonised UK. This is because there are also implications for land use when talking about diet.
Alice Hooker-Stroud, research co-ordinator and communications officer for the project says: “Choosing foods that are lower in greenhouse gas emissions is obvious when trying to decarbonise the UK. However, many of the high-emitting foods – red meat and dairy products – also use a lot of land.
“We need much less land to produce a recommended daily portion of protein from plant-based foods like peas and beans than we do if we get that protein from beef or lamb. This has huge implications for land use here in the UK and elsewhere. If we change our diets, there is plenty of room, not just to feed a growing population, but for nature and potentially growing biomass for energy as well.”
The People, Plate and Planet report also includes the implications of changing diets on the area of land required to feed the UK population, showing that the amount of land used globally to feed ourselves here in the UK could be reduced by up to 70 percent.
For the full report CLICK HERE