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Let’s Talk About Food Choices and Climate Change

One of the climate goals that seven of the eight political parties in the Swedish parliament have agreed on is that, by 2030, the climate impact of Sweden’s transport sector should be 70 percent lower than in 2010. The goal is to become one of the world’s first fossil-free welfare nations. However, it’s no secret that the food we eat creates a significant portion of our carbon footprint. The meat industry is one of the biggest polluters in the world, and in Sweden and Norway, giving up meat would actually reduce the carbon footprint more than giving up cars.

Researchers at the University of Oxford found that cutting meat and dairy products from your diet is the best way to protect the planet. Apparently, impacts of the lowest-impact animal products exceed those of the highest-impact vegetables products. The new study, published in the journal Science, is one of the most comprehensive analyses to date of the effects farming can have on the environment.

According to lead author Joseph Poore, adopting a vegan diet is the best way to protect the planet and the single biggest way to reduce the environmental impact.

– It is far bigger than cutting down on your flights or buying an electric car, he says, which would only reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Our eating habits in Sweden give rise to significant emissions of greenhouse gases – 1.8 tonnes per capita every year. A vegan diet would reduce an individual’s carbon footprint from 1.8 tonnes to 500 kg. Yes, that’s right. From 1.8 tonnes to 500 kg. Wow. Reading this, we can’t help but wonder why eating habits isn’t the main topic of all climate change meetings around the world.

For most people, avoiding all animal products might be too much of a change. But switching to a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet, in which you can eat eggs and dairy products, but not meat, poultry, or fish, would result in a 25 percent decrease in greenhouse gas emissions. From 1.8 tonnes to 1.2 tonnes every year. And if that also seems like too big a step, even a slight change in what we eat can have a big impact on the environment. Researchers say that we should start by cutting down on beef, since the environmental impact of beef production is significantly worse than that of pork, dairy and eggs.

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