Veggies get the energy directly to you
Veggies aren’t just healthier, they use less energy too. Food that takes more steps to produce generally uses more energy and generates more GHG emissions. So to make climate-conscious decisions about what you eat, think first about the type of food you eat. Meat takes a lot of steps to produce – especially red meat. For one thing, you have to grow plants to feed the animals – it’s a lot simpler to grow plants to feed yourself.
Greenhouse gas emissions from most plant-based products are 10-50 times lower than most animal-based products – so filling up on pulses and veggies is definitely the climate-friendly option.
No bull ways to eat more veggies
- Do meatless Mondays
- Swap half the meat for beans, veg or lentils in stir-fries, curries, stews or pies
- Try alternatives like tofu, quorn or dairy substitutes
- Pick a veggie meal when you eat out
- Look for tasty ideas on recipe websites
Plan your food, eat it all
New Zealanders throw away over 75,000 tonnes of food each year – that’s 32kg each – worth $560 per household. It wastes the carbon used to produce it – and creates potent greenhouse gas if it rots in landfill.
- Plan your meals. Buy the ingredients you need for a certain number of specific meals.
- Keep foods fresh. Use jars, plastic containers and wax wraps to keep them tasty for longer.
- Cook the right portions. Foods like rice and pasta expand, while some vegetables shrink. But if you cook too much – that’s lunch sorted.
- Compost veggie waste. It produces far less climate-changing methane than when it rots in landfill.
Grow your own
Seasonal food is lower carbon – and there’s no better way to get in touch with the seasons than growing your own food. It might inspire you to eat more veggie-based meals – and could mean fewer car trips to the supermarket.
Transport is small potatoes
Getting food to your plate means growing, processing, packaging, storing, transporting, and retailing – stages that take energy and create emissions. Transport is a relatively small piece of the pie – less than 10% for most foods, and a tiny fraction of the most carbon-intensive foods. Still, eating locally-produced food means you’re more likely to eat fresh, and can find out more about how it’s made.
Chicken or beef?
A study of the American diet found replacing beef with chicken would cut people’s dietary carbon footprint in half.
The big, complex picture
The environmental impacts of food production are complex to unpick. Land use change is one of the biggest impacts. This article gives you a feel for the big picture.