How to minimize the carbon footprint in your diet (even as a vegetarian)

Tips to become more sustainable with the food you eat

Most of us feel an urgent need to reduce our impact on the earth, and a great start is with the food we eat. Here are a few simple ways to minimize your carbon footprint through dietary and lifestyle choices. Which turns into a healthier diet that supports your local economy!

For those who are vegetarian, it’s often all about the animals, the planet, your health or a million of other reasons to get into the lifestyle. Whether or not you were planning to make a radical step for the earth when choosing an animal-free diet, you’ve done it. In fact, going vegetarian has been proven to be one of the most effective ways to cut your carbon footprint down — even as much as in half from the standard meat eater’s diet!

How to minimize your carbon footprint in your diet (even as a vegetarian)
Photo credit: Daria Shevtsova

Whether you’re an environmental wiz or you’re new to the life of plant foods, you may be wondering if going vegetarian is all you need to do to save the planet. In short — no way! There are so many things you can do to cut carbon emissions on your plate, even as a vegetarian. While saving the planet is all about sustainable practices and moderation, there are a few more details you can keep in mind when stacking up your plate.

1. Cut Animal Products

Most vegetarians still eat eggs and dairy products. While meat is a big part of the carbon emissions in most diets, so are other animal products that vegetarians often regularly consume. Methane and CO2 emissions are released during all kinds of factory farming and industrial farming, not just in the production of meat itself. Eating more fully plant-based meals can help cut carbon emissions from your diet.

How to minimize your carbon footprint in your diet (even as a vegetarian)

2. Eat Organic

Eating more organic foods often means you aren’t contributing to pesticides, chemicals or GMOs that are harmful to the environment on a biological level. While organic foods can be a bit more expensive, you can even try organic gardening and growing your own food, which is great for the environment, as it eliminates any transport emissions and allows you to have direct access to the produce you want.

Starting your first organic garden: a beginners guide

3. Cut Processed Foods

There are plenty of vegetarian and vegan foods that come in packages and are just as processed as any non-vegan product at the grocery store, and you can usually expect them to be much worse for the environment. This is simply because it takes much more energy to make processed foods than it does to source natural foods. While you don’t need to fully eliminate them altogether, cutting back can be highly beneficial.

How to minimize your carbon footprint in your diet (even as a vegetarian)

4. Eat Seasonally

When it comes to your fruits and vegetables, eating more seasonal and locally grown foods can cut carbon from your diet by eliminating transport emissions. Local foods that travel less distance are the best, as exotic or out-of-season foods usually require specific conditions and even air travel. If you can go to the farmer’s market and find produce right from the source, that’s even better.

The Amazing Advantages of Hyperlocal Food Movement

5. Everything in Moderation

In short, someone who is vegetarian or flexitarian for a lifetime will probably do much more for the environment than someone who eats fully raw, organic vegan foods for six weeks before quitting and going back to their old ways because it’s too hard. Helping the environment is all about sustainability, and that also means finding practices that are sustainable for you in your life. It’s about making exceptions where you can and finding balance.

Cutting Carbon From Your Vegetarian Diet

We all want to help the planet, and whether you’re a vegan, vegetarian, flexitarian or you’re simply curious about what you can do, there are so many options. Whether you make an effort to eat more organic produce or you grow your very own, creating a sustainable world is all about finding balance in what works for you. That way, you can keep on helping the planet in your own unique way.

How to minimize your carbon footprint in your diet (even as a vegetarian)

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Jane Marsh

Jane is the founder and editor-in-chief of Environment.co where she shares practical tips on how to live a greener life.

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