Eating Green

Eating a greener diet is one of the biggest and simplest ways to reduce your personal carbon footprint, but ‘greener’ doesn’t necessarily have to mean becoming vegetarian or vegan.

A greener diet can simply mean choosing organic, Fairtrade or locally grown food. It can mean deciding to eat plant-based meals a few times a week, growing your own vegetables, or making a conscious effort not to create as much food waste.

Eating greener simply means having less impact on the environment than you may have had in the past.

Eating a ‘greener’ diet is one of the biggest and simplest ways you can reduce your carbon footprint

Is it worth the effort?

Currently, the global food system is one of the most damaging human activities for our planet. Producing and delivering food is a leading cause of climate change. Crops produce huge amounts of pollution every day, thanks to fertilisers and pesticides which often harm wildlife and the atmosphere.

Due to our continually growing population, we are constantly in need of more and more farmland for animals to feed those who eat meat and use other animal-based products. That means the world loses about 36 football fields’ worth of trees every minute due to deforestation.

Less trees on our planet means it is less able to defend itself against carbon emissions – but deforestation also directly causes the extinction of many species that depend on a specific ecosystems to survive.

I’m not a Vegan or Vegetarian – can I still make a difference?

If you can’t or don’t want to go vegetarian or vegan, there are smaller changes that you can make in your diet too. If we all make small changes, we can really make a difference: not only by reducing our own environmental footprint, but by ‘voting with our wallets’ and letting the big companies know what we want to see on the shop shelves.

green food shopping chelmsford

Make small changes now.

  • Try to eat two vegetarian meals a week. A recent study found that almost half of the UK population now eats two or more vegetarian meals a week. If you do this for a year, around 13 square miles of forest avoids destruction and 550 kg less CO2 gas is released into our atmosphere. If everyone in the UK was to do it, it would be equivalent to taking 16 million cars off the road!
  • Try eating less red meat (especially beef and pork) and dairy products. This is one of the greatest changes you can make to benefit our environment. Try eating more white meat like chicken and fish, or why not try meat-free alternatives?
  • Buy organic and/or Fairtrade produce. When we buy organically grown food, we are helping to reduce the amount of toxic fertilisers and pesticides in our natural environment. This is because in order to produce a good yield, many farmers spread synthetic chemicals over their crops, which is then washed into our streams and rivers when it rains. This in turn pollutes our natural environment and harms wildlife.
  • Reduce the distance your food travels. The further our food travels, the more carbon is produced in getting it to your plate. There are lots of ways you can reduce this distance. Try growing your own fruit and veg, shopping at your local greengrocers, butchers or market, or only buy fruit and veg that is currently in season, as this means it will have not travelled thousands of air miles.
vegetarian vegan green salad

Actually, I’d like to make the switch to a Vegetarian or Vegan diet.

If you’re considering giving a vegetarian or vegan diet a go you’ll find plenty of support and advice online that can help you with everything from recipes and getting the right nutrients, to managing when everyone else in your household still eats a meat-based diet. You might find these websites a good place to start:

Vegetarian:

Advice on a healthy vegetarian diet
BBC vegetarian recipe library
The Vegetarian Society

Vegan:

Advice on a healthy vegan diet
BBC vegan recipe library
The Vegan Society