Skip to main content
Menu

Climate change   |   Meat   |   Local sourcing   |   Plant-based

Top tips for a low-carbon diet

Many questions surround the carbon-intensity of people’s diets, and a big one that comes up is consumption of beef and dairy. Undoubtedly, ruminant livestock are responsible for a significant level of greenhouse gas emissions.

However, not all livestock systems are the same – they vary wildly from intensive feedlots chucking out GHG’s through un-responsible feed production and manure/slurry handling, to lighter, grass-fed systems where some carbon is sequestered in soils.

It’s important to highlight the mechanisms for this: GHGs for cattle and dairy farming largely come from enteric fermentation (cows belching), manure, growing pasture or feed crops, and on farm power energy use.

Organic veg
Choosing a low-carbon diet is a complex decision. 

While not being strictly low-carbon, purchasing organic, grass-fed UK animal products is a slightly climate-friendlier option where meat is concerned, due to reductions in transport emissions but also because permanent pasture locks carbon in the ground. Also, organic ensures a range of environmental farming benefits that safeguard water, air, and biodiversity.

However, if you’re not a fan of getting hung up on technical details, read on and follow these simple rules for a carbon-friendly diet:

•           Eat mostly vegetables, fruits and whole grains

•           Buy less tropical fruit and enjoy more of what’s available in the UK – apples, pears, soft fruits

•           Try to purchase British grown plant protein i.e. beans and pulses from companies like Hodmedods

•           Limit meat and dairy products to once a day, or only a few times a week, or less…

•           Avoid processed food – it’s far more likely to have a high embodied energy/carbon footprint from processing, storage, and transport, as well as being subject to poorly sourced ingredients such as palm oil/un-responsibly produced soy

Zac Goodall is the author of Riverford’s first sustainability report, published in June 2020. 

    Comments

    fairygodmother00

    2 Months 3 Weeks

    Is anybody lobbying for our food to show not just where it's from but, if applicable, whether it is grown in heated greenhouses? I understand from Mike Berners-Lee's, There is no Planet B, that this food is almost as bad for GHG as airfreight but it's difficult to avoid if it isn't labelled. All those peppers from Holland, does anyone know?

    0 Reply

    Zac Goodall

    Zac is a Riverford co-owner, where he works on sustainability projects such as developing the company's modern slavery policy and working on a carbon footprint project with Exeter University. He is interested in regenerative agriculture and recently visited Uganda where he saw first-hand the results of a charity project that trains small-scale farmers and helps them create a sustainable model for the future. He has an MSc in Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture where he studied the success of agricultural knowledge transfer projects, and in his spare time he coordinates a local community garden. 

    Wicked Leeks: Coronavirus Special

    Wicked Leeks issue 3 is out now, covering the impact of coronavirus on food, farming and changing habits, plus opinions, interviews and the best seasonal recipes.

    Read more

    Store cupboard tips and tricks

    Make your own Nutella, wow your family with an Italian breadcrumb flourish or transform store cupboard staples into delectable desserts.

    Read more
    carrots

    Live Life on the Veg

    Riverford's veg hub, with recipes, veg help and community ideas.

    Go to Riverford
     

    Join the Wicked Leeks community

    Sign up for the newsletter and receive the five latest stories, once a week. Wicked Leeks magazine is published by organic veg box company Riverford.