Flexitarian Diets Key to Feeding People in a Warming World
Can a simple diet help save the planet we call home?
Photo by Max Kiesler (Flickr)
by Tab Gerry
Recently, we have been undergoing somewhat of a climate control crisis, with accusations flying everywhere following accusations that 100 companies are producing 71% of greenhouse emissions.
If you haven’t read that article – spoiler alert – they are all big oil and gas companies. As none of us are responsible for these – yet, I’m looking at you oil and petroleum students – what are some of the ways that we can cut down on our carbon footprint?
According to Nature, livestock emissions contribute to 14.5% of greenhouse emissions and are the largest contributor to the rise in methane levels. Methane is one of the most dangerous carbon emissions in terms of its impact on the ozone layer. Whilst films like ‘Cowspiracy’ and ‘What the Health’ might use shock tactics to have people running fork over knife towards a vegan diet, this might not be the most effective solution.
Altering our diets, as well as cutting down on food waste, are some of the more effective ways of reducing our food-related energy usage. If this goes unchecked, it could increase by up to 90% by 2050 due to the increasing availability of food as well as an increase in the population.
Flexitarianism has become increasingly popular over the last decade and accompanies an overall shift in growth towards vegetarianism and veganism. A flexitarian diet comprises of a shift towards a more Mediterranean style diet and involves a reduction in meat intake, especially red meat. Consumption of meat and dairy products often involves larger quantities of water, crops, and space than consumption of other forms of food. Initiatives have been introduced, such as meat-free Mondays, to cut down on meat consumption, not just to reduce greenhouse emissions, but also to protect consumers. Eating meat is one of the bigger lifestyle risks connected to a range of diseases, such as cancer or cardiovascular diseases. Other risk factors include smoking, drinking alcohol, lack of exercise and low consumption of fruit and vegetables. A diet that cuts down on meat could encourage people to make healthier choices and lower the risks of disease as well as being better for the planet.
Other ways to limit cost to the planet that can be done by consumers include buying locally, limiting the number of goods imported from other countries, consuming fewer products that contain substances such as palm oil, using reusable utensils instead of getting plastic straws and cutlery, and taking public transport instead of driving.