One of the biggest changes we can make to improve the sustainability of our diet is to reduce meat intake – particularly beef.
This is a step many Europeans have already taken. A recent market study found that 40% of European consumers intend to eat less meat in the future, while 46% have already reduced their intake.
However, a food group that is often overlooked in the conversation about sustainability is junk food. Candy, pastries, ice-cream, sodas and other kinds of nutritionally poor food make up a large percentage of our carbon footprint.
A recent review of 20 studies in Australia and New Zealand found that foods which are not part of dietary recommendations, such as sugary drinks, alcohol, confectionaries, and processed meats, make up to a third of food-related greenhouse gas emissions (GHGe).
Considering that these foods provide no nutritional value and are in fact damaging to human health, their GHGs are way out of proportion. These kinds of foods do not have the ‘carbon intensity’ of beef. However, considering how much of these foods people eat and how little nutrition they get in return, it is worth encouraging consumers to reduce them for environmental reasons as well as health reasons.
Consumers who would like to (but struggle) cut down on junk food for their health now have an additional reason to do so. Two birds with one stone.
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