Your diet has a massive impact on your emissions. Going vegan for a year can save up to 1,520,000 litres of water and over 3,300 kg of CO2. This is the most extreme dietary change, and not everyone is willing to cut out all animals products from their diet. There has recently been a lot of media coverage about the benefits of going flexitarian - cutting down on your meat consumption instead of eliminating it completely. If each member of the population did this, it would have far greater effects than a few members cutting out all animal products.
Agriculture is responsible for 51% of all global greenhouse gas emissions, in comparison to the 13% produced by the entirety of the transport industry (road, rail, air and marine). It requires 600 gallons of water to produce one hamburger, the equivalent of a person showering for 2 months. Livestock covers 45% of the world’s total land mass. These figures are fuelled purely by our population’s excessive demand for meat. If we all cut our consumption even by a quarter (that’s 4 days of meat eating instead of 7), we would half that massive 51% statistic. Not only would this reduction in meat eating be good for the planet but it would also diversify your diet and reduce your chance of heart disease.
Consider also your consumption of fish. The fishing industry has its own negative impact, namely the destruction of ecosystems through overfishing, the by-catch of unwanted species like sharks, whales and dolphins, and the incorrect disposal of plastic fishing equipment (46% of ocean plastic is made up of discarded fishing nets). If you eat fish, try to source it locally and sustainably from a fishmonger in your area. Get in the know about your fish with the Marine Conservation Society’s Top 10 Tips for seafood.
It is not only the meat and dairy industries that produce food-related emissions. It is important to remember that, here in Britain, we eat a lot of food that is not grown on our land. For starters, think of the fruit aisle, where there are bananas, mangoes, avocados, oranges and pineapples always readily at your fingertips. Consider the journey these foods have taken to reach your local supermarkets. Find out the carbon footprint of your favourite foods here.