Letter to the editor: Reduce consumption of animal products to combat climate change


Looking for a way to reduce your carbon emissions? One of the easiest ways is to eat less meat and animal products.

According to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO)’s 2013 report “Tackling Climate Change Through Livestock,” animal agriculture produces 7.1 gigatons of CO2 per year, which is 14.5% of greenhouse gasses released into the atmosphere that is attributable to humans. The majority of animal agriculture greenhouse gases comes from beef and cattle milk production, due to the emissions associated with animal feed production and from the animals themselves (think cow flatulence and manure). 26% of arable land is used to graze livestock and 33% of croplands are used to feed these farmed animals.

That’s nearly 60% of land used in food production. We could potentially “re-wild” (plant trees and let nature back in) some of this land if we consumed less meat and animal products, such as eggs, cheese, and milk.  Compared to planting one trillion trees to reverse the climate change trend, though, finding ways to eat less meat and animal products is much less labor intensive.

A baby step you can try is “Meatless Mondays,” where you skip meat just for Monday and eat vegetarian options instead. If you’re game to try some meat substitutes, some popular ones are Beyond Meat Burgers and Sausages, Impossible Patties (made famous by Burger King’s Impossible Whopper), and their ground meat substitutes. For deli sandwiches, try Tofurky’s deli slices or Yves salami substitutes. To replace eggs, look to Just Egg, which cooks like regular eggs and is sold right next to the regular eggs in the freezer section.

There are numerous milk and cheese substitutes to consider, too, from classic Silk Soy Milk, almond, coconut, or oat milk, to Daiya and Chao cheese, and Miyoko’s Creamery’s vegan butter. Here in Edmonds, Winco, Safeway, QFC, and PPC Natural Markets carry all of these products between them.

While we do not yet have a dedicated vegan restaurant here in Edmonds, many of our restaurants have vegan-friendly options on their menus: Maize & Barley has a tofu sandwich and the Cheesemonger’s Table has a hummus sandwich to pair with their vegan tomato soup. Ono Authentic Hawaiian Poke has vegan tofu, cucumber kimchi, edamame, and seaweed salad. At Caravan Kebab, Lebanese Mohamara, Baba Ghanouj, Hummus, Vegetable Pakora, and Vegetable Samosa are just some of their vegan options. Savvy Thai Cuisine has vegetable spring rolls made without animal products. A simple phone call or question for your waiter at your favorite restaurant might yield an intriguing animal-free meal option that you haven’t considered before.

Like carpooling or bringing reusable bags to the grocery store, eating less meat, eggs, and dairy is a simple lifestyle change that you can slowly start to incorporate into your daily routine. Less animal products in your diet is healthier for you and for the planet.

— By Jenna Nand on behalf of the City of Edmonds Mayors’ Climate Protection Committee



21 Replies to “Letter to the editor: Reduce consumption of animal products to combat climate change”

      1. It is much more than an opinion piece; it’s presented as a statement of facts from the City of Edmonds Mayors’ Climate Protection Committee.


  1. I think there is some misinformation in this article. We should be concentrating on the sourcing of food. The amount of chemicals used in our food should be the first concern; and yes it would be nice to reduce the carbon footprint but vegetables and fruits are heavily sprayed & machinery is used to harvest; many harbor micro toxins in them if not harvested correctly (especially grains in how they are stored and sprayed) And the “faux meats” are not by any means a healthy option if you read the ingredients. So buyer beware; do your own research on the food you eat; be responsible not only for the “planet” but your own health.


    1. Great article Jenna, thank you! Those who know this info are aware of how defensive people can become when confronted with this unfortunately.


  2. Thank you for this terrific information. We each make our own choices on how we contribute to reducing our carbon footprints and your information is helpful to individual choices. Thanks!


  3. This was an opinion piece, letter to the editor, not an article. No one is telling you how to eat. Most doctor’s, though, will tell you that eating less animal products is healthier for you.


  4. Industrial agriculture is certainly a problem. But to suggest that eating industrial soy, corn, wheat, etc is good for our personal nutrition, or the environment, is ludicrous. We genetically modify, spray with toxic herbicides and insecticides, apply tons of petroleum based fertilizers, contaminate our water supply – all to grow vast quantities of toxic and nutritionally deficient foods. Read up on regenerative agriculture. Grass raised and finished beef is a super food!


  5. I have been a commissioner of several commissions and task forces over the years and one thing we are all aware of is that when we speak about a topic that was discussed in a commission meeting we should always make a statement that this is an approve discussion of the X commission or it is the opinion of the individual. This article suggests the entire commission has approved the article and the the writer is authorized to speak for the commission.


  6. Dogs eat 30% of the nation’s meat. Dog poop hurts the salmon. Cat’s decimate base animal species completely upsetting the natural food chain, even causing countless extinctions just for sport hunting. Ten million tons of dog poop in plastic bags is put into landfills every year. Owning a dog is effectively the same as owning an extra SUV. Practically speaking, you can’t ben an environmentalist and a comfort animal owner.


  7. Climate protection. Sounds like a good case of Pride..and you know where pride comes…
    Why can’t you just live your life and that’s it.. rediculous…
    You are witnessing an Edmonds Commission..


  8. Thank you for publishing my letter! Here are some of the sources cited in my letter:

    Gerber, P.J., Steinfeld, H., Henderson, B., Mottet, et al. “Tackling Climate Change Through Livestock – A Global Assessment of Emissions and Mitigation Opportunities.” Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), (2013), visited on August 21, 2020, http://www.fao.org/3/i3437e/i3437e.pdf

    • “Livestock and Landscapes,” Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), visited on August 21, 2020, http://www.fao.org/3/ar591e/ar591e.pdf

    • F. Bastin, Y. Finegold, C. Garcia, D. Mollicone, et al. “The Global Tree Restoration Potential.” Vol. 365 Science, Issue 6448 (Jul 5, 2019), visited on August 21, 2020, https://science.sciencemag.org/content/365/6448/76

    • Melina, V., Craig, W., Levin, S. “Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Vegetarian Diets,” Journal of Academy of Nutrition and Diet, (Dec. 2016), visited on August 21, 2020, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27886704/


  9. Baba Ghanouj, Hummus, Vegetable Pakora, and Vegetable Samosa are all delicious food choices. So are BBQ pork ribs, mesquite smoked beef brisket, cedar planked wild salmon. Lots of great suggestions. Yum. Fortunately the City of Edmonds does not manage my menu.


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