If you’re worried about climate change, you may be cutting down on your use of plastics, recycling and maybe even composting, watching your electricity use, and trading driving for other forms of transportation. But have you changed your eating habits? Globally, the agriculture sector accounts for 22% of greenhouse gas emissions – and livestock production makes up nearly 80% of that. Compared to plant-based foods, animal-based foods are more damaging to the environment and that’s a big problem, especially since consumption of meat continues to rise worldwide.
Fortunately, companies are busy creating protein-rich, plant-based, “meaty” alternatives, like pea protein burgers crafted to look, taste, and even “bleed” like meat, and shiitake mushroom “bacon.” That’s good news not just for the environment but also for health. A diet high in red and processed meats increases risk of cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, and even early death.
Experts recommend making processed meats a “once in a while” food and limiting red meat to 1-2 times per week. Instead, opt for less risky and more environmentally friendly protein sources, such as fish, nuts, beans, soy, peas, lentils, and, in lesser amounts from an environmental perspective, dairy,eggs, and poultry. Remember, eating sustainably not only can help to protect your own health, but can also reduce your impact on the environment.