Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Low Carbon Diet

It's no secret these days that animal products, including meat and dairy, have large carbon footprints in comparison to vegetables and other food products. However, what never ceases to amaze me is how much meat Americans consume. Americans have one of the highest rates of meat consumption in the world. It is not uncommon for many of us to eat meat with every meal. 

chart courtesy of American Prospect

This past week Santa Clara University's dining commons, which are run by Bon Appetit Management Company, decided to do a low carbon diet day to help bring awareness to their future plans of decreasing meals with meat on Fridays. Oddly every single main dish or special had meat in it. What carbon calculator were they using?

Shockingly, if Americans went vegetarian for one day, the US would prevent 1.2 million tons of carbon emissions according the New York University Polytechnic Institute. 

Decreasing our consumption of carbon heavy foods can massively affect our carbon emissions. Switching to a vegetarian diet can save more carbon emissions than driving a hybrid vehicle! A vegetarian diet saves 5040 pounds of CO2 per year and a hybrid saves 5000 pounds of CO2 per year according to PlanetGreen.com.

As Earth Day approaches I am not demanding all humans go vegan, or even vegetarian. Instead, I ask that we consider what we eat and take the challenge of reducing meat to one meal a day, meatless Mondays, meatless weekdays, meatless May, or meatless everyday.

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