Eating Away at Our Earth
WWF as one of the largest environmental organizations has been working hard since 1961 reflecting the interdependence of all creation. In their comprehensive 2010 Living Planet Report they have outlined our eating habits and it is unbalancing the earth that sustains us, yet there are peoples in parts of the world who are dying of hunger.
In the image above it states:
Over a given period of time our planet produced a finite amount of resources. Trees, food, oxygen and everything else are created at a balanced natural rate. If we consume more than what is produced we start to damage the earth’s ability to renew itself. Because one of the main ways we use the planet’s resources is through our diets we’ve examined what effect diets from around the world are having on the planet by showing what would happen if everyone on earth ate the same food. As you can see if everyone ate like Americans we would be using nearly four planet’s worth of resources by 2050 – WWF.
WWF informs us:
- Globally the meat industry generates nearly 1/5 of greenhouse gases (GHGs) (
- On average, 40% of global grain production is used in livestock feed, although in richer countries the proportion of grain used for animal feed is around 70% (
- Water used for livestock production is projected to increase 50% by 2025. It currently accounts for 15% of all irrigated water (
- Producing 1kg of beef requires 15 times as much land as producing 1kg of cereals, and 70 times as much land as 1kg of vegetables.
- Worldwide, 2 billion people live on an animal-based diet and 4 billion on a plant-based diet. During the second half of the 20th century, global population doubled and meat production quadrupled. )
WWF Tips for a Sustainable Diet
Cut down on meat and dairy products
As we become richer, our diets tend to change. We consume more calories, and particularly more animal protein – like meat, fish, eggs, milk and cheese.
Livestock have a bigger environmental impact than vegetable crops.
On top of this, the Living Planet Report shows there simply isn’t enough land available on Earth for everyone to eat like the average European in 2050.
The limits of our planet mean that society is going to have to decide how much land to allocate to livestock. But you can already reduce your Footprint by reducing the amount of animal protein you eat.
It can be very simple to adapt a heavy meat/dairy recipe by replacing some of the meat/dairy ingredients with vegetables, cereals or beans. It’s not that hard, for example, to make your chicken curry a chicken and vegetable curry.
Make the most of the meat you buy – use your leftover roast chicken for cold-cuts and pies and then use the carcass to make stock and soup.
There are many cultures around the world that produce delicious meatless and dairy-free dishes. From South Indian and Thai curries to British soups and a whole cornucopia of Italian pasta dishes.
Look for terms like “free-range” or “extensively-reared” and grass or pasture-fed (as opposed to soy fed) meat.
Also look for meat produced in our upland areas (areas unsuitable for farming other crops, which makes it an efficient use of land).
Choose locally produced dairy products, use your local milkman and try using some sheep/goat’s products for a change
It’s a good use of food resources (and often cheaper for you) to buy less common cuts of meat and offal for your cooking
Buy sustainably produced food
Sustainable production methods have been developed for a variety of crops and other commodities, often linked to labelling schemes that you can look for when you’re out shopping. Examples include:
Because organic farming does not use toxic pesticides that often end up in the ground, air, water and food supply, choosing organic products can benefit the environment – and your health too.
Be sure the fish and shellfish you buy comes from a well-managed fishery by looking for the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) eco-label and follow the advice in WWF’s seafood guides.
Sustainable palm oil
Palm oil is present in many processed foods, including margarine, frozen dinners and ice cream – but expanding plantations are threatening tropical forests and species like orangutans.
Be sure to choose products from companies that are sourcing certified sustainable palm oil – and if your favourite brand doesn’t use sustainable palm oil, avoid it and ask the company why not!
Buy food that is in season
Fruit and vegetables produced during their natural season have a much lower Footprint than the same produce grown out of season, such as tomatoes and strawberries produced in winter in hothouses.
Buy local food
How far does the food you buy travel before it reaches your table?
Wherever possible, buy local, seasonal produce that hasn’t crossed the globe to get to you.
But if you really want summer fruit and vegetables in winter, it may be better to buy items produced in a warmer climate, or even on the other side of the world where that fruit is in season, than items grown in hothouses or kept for months in cold storage in your own country.
And if you are choosing produce from far away, try to make sure it was shipped, and not flown, to your country.
Only buy what you will eat
We waste a lot of food.
It rots in the fridge or is thrown away at the end of a meal.
In the US, 14% of food purchased at the grocery store is thrown away. This is an incredible waste of resources – not just to produce the food but also to ship, process and store it, all for nothing.
Watch what you drink too!
If you know your tap water is safe to drink. Transporting water from its source to the supermarket is an expensive waste of energy.
And, the plastic and glass water bottles add to the mountains of rubbish that we produce. Find out from your municipality about your tap water. If you do buy bottled water, buy from a local source (read the labels) and then recycle the glass or plastic bottles.
Find our more from : WWF