A "Better" Diet

posted 16.02.2010
Another post from the newest member of the Recipro Team - Mike Close.  This blog looks at the effects of vegetarianism on the planet!  


It has long been thought that giving up meat and turning to a vegetarian diet is not only the key to a healthy lifestyle but also a great way of reducing your carbon footprint and helping your planet. New research from the Cranford University however, has suggested that vegetarian diets that include a large number of processed meat substitutes such as Tofu might in fact be worse for the environment than eating a “meat diet”.

Past reports have made some strong claims that a vegetarian diet drastically reduces the amount of greenhouse gases that go into the environment. Farming livestock are blamed for a quarter of “man made” methane emissions and 8 % of all UK emissions. According to the University of Chicago switching to a vegetarian diet can shrink your carbon footprint by up to 1.5 tonnes of carbon.

The new research has suggested though that the benefits are heavily reliant on the types of vegetarian foods consumed, Tofu and other processed meat substitutes containing soy, chickpeas and lentils may be resulting in a higher emissions output than eating locally sourced meat. These crops are being grown overseas and imported; this is resulting in higher transport emissions and increased destruction of forests due to a high demand for arable land.

This is a very convenient report for someone like me who enjoys a nice steak every now and then but generally considers himself to be fairly “environmentally friendly”, but of course it is a simplistic view. What if I eat imported meats, what about the increased water productions in meat production, what if I eat meat from a cow which has abnormal levels of flatulence, what if I import an individual lemur steak on a 1000 tonne steamboat powered on coal, mined by children in developing countries?

So what should I be eating to do “my bit”? Just vegetables, just locally sourced meat, or maybe grass cuttings from my garden? Well I am not going to cut out meat, or vegetables; maybe one day packaging will let me know how much carbon is used in the production of foods and “they” can monitor my carbon footprint accordingly. Maybe if I stay within my individual carbon targets I could be rewarded with nectar points (or the equivalent), if I do less well I am forced to scavenge through my next door neighbours potato peelings until the next “carbon year”.

I think until such times though I will try to maintain a healthy balanced diet (with the odd Chinese takeaway thrown in) and get locally sourced products where possible. There seems to be too much questionable data and dubious assumptions to create a clear indication of the best diet to be “green”.

Category: environment, funnies