Eat Green: Create a Lower-Carbon Diet

The biggest contributors to global warming and climate change are travel needs and electricity demands -- but food production and transport is responsible for one-third of global greenhouse emissions! Help out by choosing better foods.
Related To:

Experts say the biggest contributors to global warming are travel (our cars, planes and shipping needs) and electricity demands, but food production doesn't tread lightly either. Food is responsible for one-third of global greenhouse emissions!

You may not fix the world's problems by yourself, but making small changes and setting a good example can't hurt -- and what better time to start than Earth Week. Here's what it means to go low carbon.

What do you mean "low carbon"?

There's a lot of jargon in the eco-world ("carbon footprint," "go green," "climate change") and throwing "low-carbon diet" into the mix just adds to it, we know. But hey, think of this as a new way of "cutting the carbs"! The idea is to reduce your direct effect on the environment by being mindful of how your actions -- specifically your food choices -- increase carbon dioxide emission and support dirty industries.

Food has an impact?

Yep, it does. According to a 2008 Carnegie Mellon study, 83% of carbon emissions came from the growth and production of food itself; 11% of that alone is from its transportation -- a.k.a. "food miles," which refers to moving food between the grower, seller and eventual consumer. Most low-carbon diet advocates endorse eating local foods to reduce "food miles" (so hit up your farmers' market), but choosing different foods can also have an effect.

One example is cutting down on meat. Don't worry -- we're not saying we all should be vegan; just try limiting it more. Production of livestock such as cows and sheep accounts for 18% of the world’s total greenhouse gases according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. Even President Obama has promoted "Meatless Mondays" in the White House as a way to help out. And don't forget that milk and other dairy counts in this, too.

Factor your own food footprint

You might be skeptical of how much you alone can do, but it's still interesting to look into. I enjoyed figuring out my carbon emissions using this interactive calculator from Eatlowcarbon.org. According to it, a chicken sandwich is much better for the environment than a tofu curry (massive soybean production is problematic), and a bowl of lentil soup is beneficial to my body and the environment. Yes, it can get confusing -- or even frustrating -- to keep track of what's okay and what's not, but doing a little here or there is a good start.

This is only some basic info to introduce the idea of low-carbon eating. If you want to learn more, check out this article from Environmental Science & Technology or this background info from Circleofresponsiblity.org.

    READ MORE:
TELL US: How important is eating greener to you?
Keep Reading

Next Up

Vegetarian Diet Basics

There are different types of vegetarians, the strictest being a vegan. Find out about the other types, the basic food groups and combinations that will ensure a well-balanced diet.

10 Ways To Eat Less Meat

Some cuts of meat, full fat dairy products and other high fat ingredients are oftentimes used in cooking to add texture, flavor and mouth feel. Problem is you might be adding artery clogging saturated fat and cholesterol. There are plenty of meatless options you can use that’ll even surprise your taste buds. Here are 10 ideas.

The Veggie Table: Meatless Mexican Lasagna

This vegetarian lasagna features kicked up Mexican flavors with salsa and jalapenos for extra warmth on a cold winter.

The Veggie Table: Get Your Vegetarian Plate in Shape

Whether you're vegan, vegetarian or just trying to eat more plant-based foods, find out how to keep your plate balanced at each meal.

The Veggie Table: A Vegetarian Pregnancy

Throughout my pregnancy, one of the most popular questions I got was, "Are you still going to be vegetarian?"

The Veggie Table: Favorite Kitchen Tools for a Vegetarian or Vegan Kitchen

The right tools make healthy cooking even easier. Stock your kitchen with our picks for making vegetarian and vegan cooking effortless.

The Veggie Table: Favorite Vegan and Vegetarian Blogs

A round-up of Janel Ovrut Funk's favorite vegan and vegetarian food blogs.

The First Vegetarian Elementary School Is Changing More Than Meals

P.S. 244 in New York City's Queens is the first public school in the nation to become 100-percent vegetarian.

Why We Love Tofu

If you’re looking to reduce your cholesterol or eat more plant foods, tofu is an excellent protein-packed option.

Reading List: Mario Batali Embraces Meatless Mondays, American Cancer Society News and The Rockstar Nutritionist

In this week’s nutrition news: The American Cancer’s Society unveils its “Choose You” campaign, dance classes spice up your exercise routine and lack of sleep linked to childhood obesity.

On TV

The Pioneer Woman

9:30am | 8:30c

Cupcake Wars

10am | 9c

Cupcake Wars

11am | 10c

Cake Wars

12pm | 11c

The Pioneer Woman

1:30pm | 12:30c

Beat Bobby Flay

2:30pm | 1:30c

Beat Bobby Flay

3:30pm | 2:30c

Beat Bobby Flay

4:30pm | 3:30c

Beat Bobby Flay

5:30pm | 4:30c

Beat Bobby Flay

6:30pm | 5:30c

Chopped

7pm | 6c

Chopped

8pm | 7c

Chopped

9pm | 8c
On Tonight
On Tonight

Beat Bobby Flay

10pm | 9c

Beat Bobby Flay

10:30pm | 9:30c

Beat Bobby Flay

11:30pm | 10:30c

Chopped

12am | 11c

Beat Bobby Flay

1:30am | 12:30c

Beat Bobby Flay

2:30am | 1:30c

Chopped

3am | 2c

Mystery Diners

4:30am | 3:30c

Food Network Apps

In the Kitchen

Get over 70,000 FN recipes on all your mobile devices.

Facebook Messenger

Ask our bot for recipes, meal ideas and daily food trivia.

Amazon Echo

Just say "Alexa, enable Food Network skill" to get started.