A recent study suggests that if Americans were to stop buying meats and other animal products, they could help drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and their personal carbon footprint.
According to Phys.org, altering meal choices could significantly decrease greenhouse gas emissions, as food accounted for 16% of emissions in 2013. Residential and commercial activity accounted for 12% and industrial activity accounted for 21%.
Rebecca Boehm, the study’s lead author, is also a University of Connecticut Post Doctoral Fellow with the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity. She spoke about the research and what we can do as Americans to protect the planet from our food choices.
“We found that households that spend more of their weekly food budget on beef, chicken, pork and other meats are generating more greenhouse gas emissions. Our study shows that encouraging consumers to make food choices that are lower in greenhouse gas emissions can make a real difference addressing climate change,” Bohem said.
Researchers used national data regarding food purchases. They linked detailed house purchase data to a tool that’s used to calculate greenhouse gas emissions from every part of the food supply chain. This includes production, manufacturing, distribution, transportation, retail, and restaurants.
Past studies have shown that about 18% of greenhouse gas emissions are associated with livestock production, including 9% of carbon dioxide, 37% of methadone, and 65% of nitrous dioxide. The study also found that 80% of the households generating very high greenhouse gas emissions from their meals were white. About 26% of households in the highest tier of emissions had a survey respondent with a college degree.
While this study went far beyond just what people buy, the solution remains the same. Researchers from this study, as well as other studies in the past, are encouraging the country to partake in low-carbon diets. They’re working to educate people and showing them what their food choices are actually doing to the world we all live in.