It’s a small effort on the plate, but a big step for the planet. It is not necessary to completely change your eating habits to reduce your carbon footprint. This is what emerges from a study carried out by American researchers, who suggest that small changes could be enough to reduce your carbon emissions while preserving your health.
Food is responsible for more than a third of greenhouse gas emissions induced by human activities, according to data presented by the United Nations. And the highest emissions would be attributable to foods of animal origin, including red meat, dairy products, and farmed shrimp.
Which diet has the least impact on the planet?
An observation that pushed a number of scientists to try to determine which diet had the least impact on the environment, with the vegan diet seeming to be unanimously accepted. But new research could provide some comfort to those struggling to give up animal products, suggesting that small changes could not only be enough to mitigate each individual’s carbon footprint, but also improve it. health.
A team led by researchers from Tulane University in the United States looked at the effects of certain simple and easily achievable dietary changes on the carbon footprint of the population. To do this, they analyzed data from 7,753 adults and children representative of the American population, then identified the most frequently consumed foods with the greatest impact on the environment in order to exchange them for nutritionally similar substitutes, but less harmful to the planet. “For us, the substitutions were substituting a beef burger for a turkey burger, not replacing steak with a tofu hot dog. We looked for substitutes that were as similar as possible“, explains Anna Grummon, professor at Stanford University, in a press release.
NO to diets, YES to WW!
A slight change in the plate
Published in the journal Nature Food, this research suggests that simple substitutes could be enough to reduce your carbon footprint. An observation which could encourage a greater number of consumers to make simple but effective efforts in favor of the environment. In detail, the researchers explain that replacing beef with chicken, or cow’s milk with plant-based milk, could reduce the carbon footprint of the average American’s diet by 35%. And that’s not all… Although the study did not aim to identify nutritionally healthy substitutes, the researchers nevertheless noted that these also made it possible to improve the quality of the diet by 4% to 10%. food of the participants.
“This study shows that it is possible to reduce carbon emissions linked to food and that it is not necessary to completely change your lifestyle. It can be as simple as ordering a chicken burrito instead of a beef burrito when you go to a restaurant. When you’re at the grocery store, move your hand to grab soy or almond milk instead of cow’s milk. This small change can have a significant impact“, underlines Diego Rose, lead author of the study.
While some have had no trouble adopting a vegan diet, which is more respectful of the planet, others are unable to change their eating habits in this way. The study therefore shows that harmless, or at least more accessible, changes can help preserve both the environment and health. “Sustainable diets and healthy diets overlap. Our study shows that by changing a single ingredient, by making an exchange, we can win on all counts and achieve significant changes both in terms of climate and in terms of health“, concludes Professor Anna Grummon.