Everyday Meals

The THREE steps to making your diet more environmentally friendly

Angellica Bell urges meat-eaters to switch to plant-based foods

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Food production is responsible for at least a third of all greenhouse gas emissions, according to recent figures. Avoiding meat and dairy products is one of the best ways you can help reduce your personal environmental impact, it’s been claimed. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said a plant-based diet is a key method to help tackle climate change.

The global population is currently on track to reach 10 billion by 2050.

This means the eating habits of human beings will have huge implications for the environment – particularly the growing impact on topsoil, pollution, greenhouse gases and deforestation.

Sugar, palm oil and farmed salmon are among those items deemed to be hugely destructive to the planet.

Meat consumption also has a hugely detrimental impact leading to a 60 percent uplift in greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector.

How can you make your diet more environmentally friendly?

Making space to rear cattle and growing crops to feed livestock can be devastating to the environment.

Oceans are also under attack due to being trawled and overfished.

Food production is the greatest driver of wildlife loss and contributes massively to climate change – with an estimated third of greenhouse gas emissions associated with the food production chain.

Express.co.uk speaks to Zac Goodall is the Sustainability and Ethics Manager at organic farming company Riverford about how people can make their diets more sustainable.

Cutting back

Eating fewer food products that have the worst impact on the environment can be hugely beneficial to helping curb climate change.

The Climate Change Committee is calling for at least a 20 percent reduction of beef, lamb and dairy consumption per person as part of its land-use policies.

Red meat and dairy are particularly damaging products.

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Eat seasonally

Eating seasonal produce is a great place to begin working towards eating more sustainably.

Mr Goodall told Express.co.uk: “Avoid the dogma of ‘local is best’. When combined with seasonal eating, local food is likely to be more sustainable.

“But eating local food that isn’t thriving in that season can produce a significant environmental impact.”

Creating the right growing conditions for out of season items means using heated greenhouses which use massive amounts of energy.

The sustainability expert said it is in fact more environmentally beneficial to eat products which have been grown in unheated greenhouses out of season, even if that means transporting them from abroad.

Mr Goodall added: “It is far better [twice or thrice times better on emissions in fact] to drive tomatoes up from Spain which have been grown in unheated polytunnels in winter than to buy super-heated greenhouse tomatoes from the UK in winter.”

Avoid palm oil and products containing palm oil

Unsustainable palm oil is responsible for large-scale deforestation, putting wildlife like orang-utans and tigers under threat.

The use of palm oil also contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and increases the risk of climate change.

However, rejecting palm oil altogether could have unintended consequences as alternatives can be even worse for the environment.

Some of these alternatives need up to nine times as much land to produce.

Express.co.uk has compiled a list of the five worst contenders for food products which severely damage the environment here.

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