Making simple diet swaps can not only improve your health but also cut carbon emissions, according to a new study.
Making substitutions – such as switching beef for chicken or drinking plant-based milk instead of cow’s milk – could cut the average carbon footprint from food by 35 percent, while simultaneously boosting the nutritional quality of their diets.
The American research, published in the journal Nature Food, hopes to encourage more people to adopt climate-friendly eating habits, with food production accounting for 25 to 33 percent of America’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Senior author Professor Diego Rose, of Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, said: “It can be as simple as ordering a chicken burrito instead of a beef burrito when you go out to eat.
“When you’re at the grocery store, move your hand one foot over to grab soy or almond milk instead of cow’s milk. That one small change can have a significant impact.”
The study, which analyzed diet data from more than 7,700 Americans, identified commonly eaten foods with the highest climate impact and simulated replacing them with nutritionally similar, lower-emission options.
The largest projected reductions in emissions were seen in mixed dishes: burritos, pasta and similar popular dishes where it’s easy to substitute a lower-impact protein instead of beef.
Lead author Dr. Anna Grummon, Assistant Professor of pediatrics and health policy at Stanford University, California, said: “For us, substitutes included swapping a beef burger for a turkey burger, not replacing your steak with a tofu hotdog.
“We looked for substitutes that were as similar as possible.”
While the substitutes are not intended as a “cure-all” for climate objectives or personal health goals, the research team say there is evidence that small changes can have a large impact.
Dr. Grummon said: “There is overlap between sustainable diets and healthy diets.”
She added: “Our study shows that changing just one ingredient, making one swap, can be a win-win, resulting in meaningful changes in both climate outcomes and how healthy our diets are.”
Produced in association with SWNS Talker
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