It is no secret that the food industry is among the top responsible for carbon emissions, accounting for almost a quarter of the total amount of emissions around the world. Therefore, companies, producers, farmers, and consumers alike have been looking for ways to reduce the environmental impact of such a necessary industry. Switching our diet from beef to chicken, however, can help us reduce our dietary carbon footprint by half, this according to a new and groundbreaking study recently published.
In order to get to these interesting results, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey asked more than 16,000 participants to remember the foods they had consumed during the last 24 hours period. Once they got the answers, the study calculated the carbon emissions of all the foods mentioned by the participants.
Diego Rose, researcher at Tulane University’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and lead author of the study, stated that they were expecting to see a lower carbon footprint from chicken-rich diets, yet the results were definitely surprising. The variation in carbon emissions is the result of many different aspects, which include energy use, fertilizers, and land used for growing food. This goes to show that a small change in our diets can have a significant impact on people’s dietary carbon footprints, thus being less harmful to the environment.
It is important to be aware of our personal and collective dietary carbon footprint and understanding how our diets can have an impact on the planet is key. For example, animal-based foods have a bigger footprint than plant-based food. For example, beef production requires 20 times more land than growing beans, while also generating 20 times more carbon emissions. In comparison to chicken production, beef takes 10 times more resources, which is why we should consider switching to chicken.
As a result of the survey, experts have weighed in to further discuss the implications of what the survey found. Kumar Venkat from CleanMetrics Corp, an Oregon-based environmental firm, stated that chicken might very well be the animal protein product with the lowest carbon footprint. This is because chicken is much more efficient when converting feed into protein, which helps reduce the amount of resources required for their growth and production.