If you’re looking for something which can have a big impact on your carbon footprint, look to your belly. There are loads of delicious ways you can cut your own emissions, and plenty you can do to encourage others to get on board.
1. Cut down on meat and dairy
According to a big UK study last year, the carbon footprint of a vegan diet is about 60% lighter than those with a load of meat in them.
You don’t have to take an all-or-nothing approach. Meat-eater? Try challenging yourself to go meat-free a few days a week. Veggie? Try giving up cheese for a month, or a few vegan days a week.
2. Make it seasonal
Eating food in the season it is naturally produced in makes it more nutritious, tasty and better for the planet.
That’s because producing food out of season needs loads of energy to grow it and then store it. In the right season, Mother Nature can just do her thing.
Check out this handy guide to see what’s in season right now.
3. Go local
It’s worth thinking about how far your food has travelled to get to your plate. Try to buy food that was grown and farmed near where you live. Lots of food you buy in supermarkets is labeled with where it was grown. It might be worth checking out markets nearby where farmers often sell their nice stuff locally.
For Brits, eating local would cut 8-13% off your carbon footprint.
4. Be ruthless with waste
Any food we chuck out still had to be grown and stored and shipped, meaning lots of carbon emissions - not to mention a waste of money.
So plan your meals before heading to the shops so you buy what you’re actually going to eat. Invest in some tupperwares and eat your leftovers for lunch the next day. Get creative with ingredients you have left over - you can put odds and ends in curries, soups and pies. And if you can’t use something up, freeze it. Seriously, you can freezer nearly anything!
5. Think about energy use
When it comes to gobbling energy, the oven is probably one of the hungriest appliances at home. So try to plan your cooking to make the best use of it - bake cakes at the same time as dinner, or get all your housemates to put their dinner in at the same time.
To take this to the next level, invest in a slow cooker. Slow cookers use a tiny proportion of the power an oven uses, and if you switch it on in the morning, dinner’s ready by the time you get home!
6. Low carbon Come Dine with Me
One of the reasons changing your diet can be hard is how much eating we do with family and friends. But that’s also one of the things that can make it so much fun.
Share recipes for low carbon food with your friends (here are five of our faves), set up a plant-based Come Dine With Me with your mates, or a vegan Bake Off at work. There are some amazing veggie and vegan recipe swap sites on the internet too.
7. Badger your favourite brands
Loads of brands are catching the vegan bug, and Veganuary have a great resource of chains with vegan options. If your fave isn’t on there, why not write to them to ask why? You could also write to your favourite food brands about what they’re doing to tackle climate change.
If you’ve got a canteen at work or at uni, badger them about making the food more sustainable, or if they’d be up for doing some meat-free days. And try asking local cafes and restaurants if they’ve thought about trying meat free days and lower carbon menus too.
Photo by Edgar Castrejon.
This blog post was written for our pals at Ben & Jerry’s.