Eat Better, Save Animals
Know the carbon cost of what you eat.
If just knowing is half the battle, then you’re halfway there. Upgrade your eating habits and drastically reduce your carbon footprint. It’s that simple. Click on each of the icons to discover the cost of what you eat and how to help save animals from extinction.
Put less meat on your plate
Animal agriculture is responsible for 14.5% of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined exhaust from all transportation. Go vegetarian and you’ll cut more emissions than if you stopped driving your car. The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) studies the impact of our eating habits on the environment. Find out how what you eat affects the planet. Fine Cooking offers amazing recipes that will help you reduce your meat intake without sacrificing your hunger.
Go vegetarian or vegan – it’s easy!
If eating less meat doesn’t seem like enough, maybe eating no meat at all is the answer. Universal veganism would reduce agriculture-related carbon emissions by 17%, methane emissions by 24%, and nitrous oxide emissions by 21% by 2050. Going veggie is the single most impactful behavior you can change to reduce your carbon footprint. Check out these simple ways to start going veggie and these nutritional tips from the USDA. For a deeper dive read this study on the climate benefits of changing your diet.
Eat organic – the pollution solution
Organic food leaves less waste seeping into our water and better ocean health. Production must follow standards that promote biodiversity. Certified organic foods cannot contain synthetic pesticides, fertilizers or antibiotics; their production cannot involve sewage sludge, and animals eat 100% organic feed. Find out more: Read the environmental benefits of organic agriculture from the Food and Agricultural Organization. Eat organic on a budget with these tips from Whole Foods.
Eat seasonally and locally
The farther our food has to travel, the larger the carbon footprint. According to this study, the footprint caused by shipping food long distances could be as high as 17 times that of buying local or regional. Just buying local reduces the overall footprint of your food by up to 25% according to EWG data. Find out more about safe foods here.
Eat sustainable seafood
90% of the world’s fisheries are fully fished or overfished. The seafood choices you enjoy for dinner tonight may not be around tomorrow. Overfishing, habitat destruction, and unsustainable bycatch practices are depleting marine life faster than can be replaced. However, more and more restaurants offer sustainable seafood. Find out more: The Monterey Bay Aquarium offers this awesome Consumer Guide that shows which fish are safe and which to avoid in your area. Programs like Seattle’s Smart Catch and Great Britain’s Fish2Fork are also making it simple to find restaurants offering sustainable seafood.
Put down the bottle – drink filtered tap water
Water has a massive impact on the planet. According to the Beverage Marketing Corporation, Americans drank 48 billion bottles of water in 2012. Creating those bottles required 32 to 54 million barrels of oil and burning this fuel emits close to 5 million tons of CO2, according to George Mason University. The bottles must then be transported and because only a limited number of water bottles can be recycled, most bottles end up in landfills (and eventually in rivers and oceans) or are incinerated.
Choose shark-free tuna
For years, we have heard about dolphins being killed by unsustainable tuna fishing practices which has lead to the now ubiquitous “dolphin safe” label on tuna cans. But dolphin safe does not mean ocean safe. Every year, destructive tuna fishing practices kill millions of marine animals including sharks, manta rays, and sea turtles. Find out more: Check out Greenpeace’s simple tuna shopping guide to know how major brands stack up for sustainable fishing practices. The Food and Agricultural Organization also did a very complete study on bycatch and non-tuna catch.
Avoid shark fins and squalene
Shark fin soup causes up to 70 million shark deaths each year, but also shark and manta parts can end up in many other food products you ingest. Shark cartilage and oil are commonly used in energy drink powders and “fish” oil supplements, and manta and shark meat can be sold as “white fish” fillets, imitation crab and as “rock” salmon. Find out more: The Humane Society International has more information on “Sharks on the Shelf” as well as a “no shark fin” pledge. For a very detailed report on the many uses of shark meats and oils read the Food and Agricultural Organization’s Shark Utilization Report.
Vote with your wallet and your fork.
There’s no better way to affect the direction of our food system than to influence suppliers’ bottom line. Ask your food providers to support local farmers, local producers, and sustainable agriculture and only buy at businesses following these practices. Change.org offers several petitions and pledges to help you get started as a supporter of sustainable food practices. NPR also offers a succinct guide to choosing a food campaign that’s right for you.