Eating to save the planet…by Jane Richards

The following guest blog post is by Jane Richards from Green Eatz…

Did you know that a quarter of your carbon footprint comes from the food you eat? Think about the enormous resources that go into producing the food on your plate, from growing crops, raising livestock, processing foods, storage and transportation.  Not much you can do about that? Well, yes, you can have a major impact by making eco-friendly food choices, changing the way you shop and cook, and cutting down on waste.

One of the biggest impacts you can have is to cut down on your meat and dairy consumption. After all, nearly a fifth of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions are produced from the raising of livestock. That is more than is produced by all of the world’s vehicles, planes and ships! A recent report estimated that climate change mitigation costs could be reduced by 50% if everyone moved to a low-meat diet, due to both a reduction in greenhouse gases and an increase in available land.

If you don’t feel able to give up meat entirely, making greener choices can still make a difference. The carbon footprint of beef and lamb are 5 to 6 times higher than pork and 10 to 15 times more than chicken. But beware of replacing your meat with extra cheese, as that has a higher footprint than pork, chicken or fish. It’s much better to get your protein from beans and legumes, which have very low carbon emissions.

Beans and legumes have very low carbon emissions. Find out more about the carbon footprint of different food types at Green Eatz.

As we live in such a dry, sunburnt country, it is worth considering the amount of water that can be saved by reducing our reliance on meat. It is bad enough that the average Australian uses 30,000 gallons of water per year around the home, but it is even more alarming that 400,000 gallons of water are needed to produce the food that each of us eats. As livestock farming needs about 10 to 15 times more water than crop production, cutting down on meat and dairy is more effective than reducing your shower time!  

Moving to a diet that mainly consists of fresh fruit, vegetables, whole-grains, beans and legumes with minimal meat and dairy is the way to go. And the closer you can get to food in its natural state the better. Organic foods have a lower environmental impact than conventionally farmed foods as there is an emphasis on using sustainable methods. Pesticides and fertilisers use a lot of energy to produce and also emit potent greenhouse gases when they break down in the soil.

And don’t forget that buying processed food is going to have a much higher environmental impact than cooking from scratch. You have to factor in the energy and resources that are needed for freezing, canning, drying and processing your food. So get out those cookery books and learn to cook healthy, green meals for your family. Another alarming statistic for you – it is estimated that around a third of all food is wasted, mainly from food that is simply thrown away. We all need to plan ahead, shop more wisely, use up those leftovers and re-use and recycle whenever we can.

Let’s all work together to make a difference and help save the planet. Make simple choices every day to reduce your carbon footprint and you’ll be well on your way to meeting your 1 million women target of saving at least 1 tonne of CO2 this year.

About the Author: Jane Richards is a nutritionist trying to raise awareness of the links between food, the environment and your health. Healthy eating for a green planet! You can read more at or follow her at or on Twitter @greeneatz.

© 2012 Jane Richards

2 responses to “Eating to save the planet…by Jane Richards

  1. I’m after some tips for cooking with legumes. I have 3 or 4 recipes but need to expand the repertoire!

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