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