Friday, May 8, 2009

Changing Our Environment with a Low Carbon Diet: Simple Guidelines to Make a Difference

By Hannah Southworth

My name is Hannah Southworth and my previous post was about the low carbon diet project I am currently working on. I am a non-vegetarian that loves good food but wants to make a difference in the environment. My low carbon diet guidelines can be used at one meal or at all three meals. In my research I looked at how many carbon points my meal was producing. I also looked at the diet of a vegetarian.

After observing both diets for a week and calculating carbon points, I determined that my weekly amount was 26,862 carbon points. The vegetarian had 21,555.5 carbon points. I changed the points by putting in the equivalent of a low carbon lunch (around 800 points) for each day at the results were much lower. My weekly carbon points were 22,204 and the vegetarian’s carbon points were 20, 954. To find out how you can reduce your impact on the environment read the simple guidelines below.

The Low Carbon Diet:
Simple Guidelines to Make a Difference
  • Organic food reduces carbon points because there are no fertilizers involved. Keep in mind that large scale organic companies require other assistance such as traveling long distances to transport bees to pollinate. Importation of grain for cattle is also necessary.
  • Avoid Processed Food because there are more carbon points for processing and packaging. Also, they use sugar and high fructose corn syrup that are highly processed.
  • Meat and Dairy are high carbon choices because cows, sheep, and goats naturally emit methane that is 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide. More than half the grain produced in the US goes to feed animals, not people. Herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers used on grains, and agricultural land and water use are put towards livestock.
  • Free Range Chickens Although chicken has a lower impact than beef, “sustainable” chicken has a 20% greater impact on global warming than the raised broiler birds because they take longer to raise and need to eat more. (According to Adrian Williams from Cranfield University in England)
  • Out of Season Fruits or Fresh Fish that has traveled long distances. The highest carbon impact comes from air transportation.
  • Avoid Produce Grown in Hot Houses (unless the hothouses are powered by renewable energy)

You don’t have to become vegan! Just a small sacrifice makes a difference.
In the book titled, Six Arguments for a Greener diet there are six arguments made for the low carbon diet:
  1. Less chronic disease and better overall health because fat and cholesterol in dairy and meat products causes around 63,000 fatal heart attacks each year.
  2. Less food borne illness linked to meat and dairy products.
  3. Better soil- livestock and industries related to it such as the dairy industry, have a huge impact on soil and land.
  4. More and cleaner water because livestock uses about 80% of all freshwater in the US.
  5. Cleaner air.
  6. Less animal suffering.
To make sure you are getting enough protein without eating meat and dairy products there are a lot of other protein rich foods that can provide this lost protein. Whole wheat bread, rice broccoli, spinach, almonds peas, chickpeas, peanut butter, tofu, soy milk, lentils, and kale all are great sources of protein. Avocados have natural fat that can provide for the lost from not eating meat products. When eating out, there are tons of options that are meat and dairy free. Try ordering pizza without cheese, or Chinese mooshu vegetables at Chinese restaurants.

These are two websites that highlight the vegan diet and how to get the proper nutrition, and vegan recipes that include protein rich ingredients.

Feel free to email me at if you have any questions!


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