Go Vegetarian and Go Green

By Danielle Gillette

Low Carbon Diet Day

An example of a Bon Appetit poster for Low Carbon Diet Day. Photo: Vince Maniago/Flickr CC

Today in the Emmanuel College cafeteria it was Bon Appetit’s fifth annual Low Carbon Diet day, where the food served is chosen for the purpose of reducing our carbon footprint. Food items like meat, cheese, and processed and packaged snacks can have a negative impact on the environment because of the greenhouse gases given off in producing and shipping them.

Bon Appetit outlines their five main principles for a low carbon diet on their blog, and they include not wasting food, buying local and in-season foods, and “mooooving away from beef and cheese” (their play on words, not mine).

But, you might ask, what does this have to do with vegan/vegetarian-ism? (Or maybe you aren’t the kind of person who asks blog posts rhetorical questions, I don’t really know.)

The answer is that adopting a vegan or vegetarian diet is one of the best ways to help lower the carbon footprint of the food industry. In one of PETA’s articles on the subject, “Fight Global Warming by Going Vegetarian,” they cite the following impressive and/or scary statistic, depending on your point of view:

 Producing one calorie from animal protein requires 11 times as much fossil fuel input—releasing 11 times as much carbon dioxide—as does producing a calorie from plant protein.

If “eleven times more” doesn’t mean a whole lot to you, consider the following (also from the same article): “a vegan is responsible for the release of approximately 1.5 fewer tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year than is a meat-eater.”

1.5 fewer tons of greenhouse gases per person can really start to add up if more people adopted vegan/vegetarian diets, even a few times a week. And as I learned in the Emmanuel cafeteria today, low carbon food does not mean lower quality.

With Earth Day coming up (April 22nd), it’s the perfect time to try going veg or at least going local when it comes to food.

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One thought on “Go Vegetarian and Go Green

  1. Hey Danielle, thanks so much for covering veg issues! I work for a local pro-veg non-profit, and I’d love to get in touch with you—I can’t seem to find a contact on this site, though!

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