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Why our food choices have a direct impact on the environment?

Most of us have had a happy relationship with food, growing up in an environment where you are unintentionally surrounded by a lot of dairy products such as milk, butter, cakes, pastries.

As a child you don’t realize where your food actually comes from or how it travels through the supply chain to reach your plate.

There are several documentaries that one can watch that show a true depiction of the animal agriculture and livestock production industry. To list a few are : Seaspiracy, The Game Changers, What the health, Cowspiracy. TW: It can be absolutely traumatizing and graphic to watch the inhumane conditions of breeding animals and keeping them in conditions no one should have to live, providing them with corn feed and artificial lighting to increase production and ensuring they are reared only to be slaughtered.

Coming from an Indian background where milk is glorified and Milk products like butter, ghee have been symbolic to Hindu Gods, it is hard to see otherwise.

Many people are actually lactose intolerant, which means they do not have the enzyme (lactase) present in their body to digest milk properly, which also makes it even more relevant to question if we must consume dairy at all?

Cows are a significant problem for our environment. It’s not their fault, of course, it’s all because humans have bred so many of them. They are one of the leading contributors to agricultural emissions, which drive climate breakdown. Cows eat many more calories in food than are returned in their milk, making them an inefficient way to feed a growing global population. They are also key polluters of waterways. In 2019, The Delhi Pollution Control Committee closed down 31 dairy farms in the city for causing water pollution, while citing 2,700 more (1).

Eating meat can cause upto 80 times more emissions than vegetables and is also highly resource intensive. The water footprint can be upto 26.3 times higher than vegetables.

“There have been a lot of negative connotations attached with the word “vegan” and many are thus making the shift to using the terminology” — Plant Based.

In fact, a study published in New Scientist magazine shows that each person can reduce the amount of greenhouse gas that his or her diet contributes to climate change by up to 60 per cent — just by going vegan.

The distance your food has traveled to reach your plate is called food miles, this also has a direct impact on the amount of emissions. Greater the food mile, greater the use of fossil fuel used to bring your food to the supermarket.

Not getting into the fad of buying exotic ingredients and instead opting to eat more seasonal and local food can not just be pocket friendly but also be very good for the environment.

How can we make the shift?

Bringing about a shift takes time and is not something that can be achieved overnight.

One should always keep in mind that each individual is different and has different nutritional requirements. Hence always consulting a nutritionist to guide you in the process is advisable.

Step 1:

Identify and list reasons as to what is stopping you from making the shift,

For many it may be a stigma attached to the fact that Plant based can not be tasty, while others may question on How will they get enough protein?

To answer this, there are also substitutes available in the market in the form of plant based meat and dairy that imitate the taste and texture of meat without harming anyone in the process.

These alternatives have grown immensely in the last few years with constant innovative products being added to the list.

Step 2:

Make small changes to your diet

Start by stepping down from eating meat 7 days a week to maybe eating meat 4 days a week.

Just by cutting down goat meat consumption one meal per day you can save upto 540 Kg of Co2 from being let out into the atmosphere in a month. Imagine the larger scale impact this could have on your total carbon footprint.

Step 3:

Encourage peers to start on this journey with you to help you ease the process, the next time you identify a restaurant, hit that vegetarian/vegan friend up and get good recommendations to dine at, any maybe this time that friend wouldn’t have to eat from home and come!

Apart from this there is a dire need of action to be taken at a policy level so as to deal with the consequences of climate change. Increased awareness and holding companies accountable for their pollution is very important. We need to start asking questions and educating ourselves so that the future generation can also witness the wonders of nature that we were privileged to see.

More on the Blog soon. Follow us on Instagram @Livabl_planet for easy tips you can follow to become climate conscious.

Written by Muskan Agarwal
Follow her on @tiffintrails on Instagram.