What about the health of our planet?


Fit & Fearless podcasters Zanna, Tally and Vicky spoke to Marco Springmann from Oxford University, who led a study into how our diets can impact the climate. This is an edited version. Read the article and listen to the podcast here.

They chatted all things sustainable eating - what is it? Why is it important? And should we all be doing it?

What’s the link between our dietary choices and the environment?

"We looked at what measures are needed to stay within environmental limits and within planetary boundaries, such as; technological changes, improvements in farm management, reductions in food loss and waste and dietary changes.

"For climate change, there is no way to avoid dangerous levels of climate change without dietary change.

"So we would always exceed the environmental limit for food-related greenhouse gas emissions if you don't change our diet."

Why does animal agriculture create carbon emissions?

"If you look at meat... it generates greenhouse gas emissions through various sources.

"So ruminant animals like beef, lamb, cows and sheep, they digest food in their multiple stomachs... and produce a very potent greenhouse gas called methane that they burp up every once in a while. So that is one of the biggest contributors to food related emissions.

"The other big contributor to emissions is nitrous oxide from fertilising crops.

"More than a third of all grain production is actually fed to animals, and we need quite a bit of food for animals to grow. So ruminant animals have a big direct impact, and also an indirect impact through the feed.

"If you change your diet and eat less animal products, you would dramatically reduce your personal carbon footprint and other resource demands.

"If more people did that then the impact could be really quite dramatic."

Would eating vegan food help?

"We estimated what could be the impact if everybody in the world went vegan, as a really extreme case.

"You could save the amount of emissions that if you put all the emissions together, it would be second largest emitter in the world of all greenhouse gas emissions. So that's really massive.

"In terms of land use, the crop land you would save would be equivalent of the size of Greenland - and the pastures you could save would be the size of the continent of Africa.

"At the same time you would save water resources and not apply that much fertiliser... and if you put all that together, that would be the complete water extraction and fertiliser application of all high income countries [put] together."

Read the article and listen to the podcast here.
Categories: BBC, BBC Radio 5 Fit & Fearless and Environment.

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