If you’re looking for something you can control which can have a big impact on your carbon footprint, look to your belly.
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. In fact, the researchers’ definition of “meat heavy” is actually about half the amount of meat the average actual Brit eats, so if you’re going from there, there is even more you can save...
You don’t have to take an all-or-nothing approach. You might find words like “reducetarian” (committed to reducing how much meat you eat), “flexitarian” (mainly vegetarian or vegan, but sometimes eating meat and fish) or even “vague-an” (kinda vegan, at least on weekdays, if it’s not your birthday, or your brother’s cooking...) helpful. Or you could just do your own thing without the need for a label.
Most of us can find some carbon to cut in our diet. Wherever you are starting from, there’s probably a saving you can make. Meat-eater? Try challenging yourself to go meat-free a few days a week and see what new recipes and tastes you learn along the way. If you’re veggie, try giving up cheese for a month, or a few vegan days a week. Vegan? Think about how far your food has travelled before it gets to your plate, and get clever about food waste too.
One of the reasons going vegan 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 too.
Share recipes for low carbon food with your friends (here are five of our faves), set up a plant-based Come Dine with me challenge with your mates, or a vegan bake off at work. There are some amazing veggie and vegan recipe swap sites on the internet too.
Warning: when you start geeking out over aquafaba, you might never stop.
If you’ve got a staff canteen, see if you can start some meat-free days. Try asking local cafes and restaurants if they’ve thought about trying meat free days and/or lower carbon menus too.
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, or join campaigns against food-production issues like palm oil.
With a shake up of UK environmental policy on the cards after we voted to leave the EU, it’s also worth writing to your local politicians about what they’re doing to ensure our agriculture and food policies are as climate-friendly as possible.