Cooking against climate change
Cutting down on eating meat and dairy can help in the fight against climate change, states a recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). This special report conducted by 107 scientists, focused on the correlation between climate change and land use. Findings, published in August 2019 identified that Western diets based on an over consumption of meat and dairy produce is fuelling global warming.
The report explains that the more people who opt to switch to plant based diets will significantly help in the fight against climate change. The production of vegetables and legumes produce far less greenhouse gas emissions than meat. The report didn’t explicitly denounce the consumption of any animal-based products, or demand that the world becomes vegan, but did state that it is vital that the world begins to reduce the consumption of foods of animal origins.
Aside from meat consumption, there are a number of processes that we need to follow to help reduce our carbon emissions. There’s even talk of the possibility of following a ‘climate diet’, which would refer to a person who chooses their foods based on what’s least harmful to the planet.
In 2016, the Ecology and Development Foundation (ECODES), with the support of the Biodiversity Foundation, carried out a project called 'Food Committed to the Climate'. They produced a guide to help people follow a climate conscious diet. The publication aimed to offer tangible ideas to help people reduce their carbon footprint in the kitchen. The guide includes simple recipes, using easy to find ingredients, asking the reader to stick to in season products.
This gallery offers you some important tips to help you follow a climate conscious diet.
Generally speaking, to cook with less greenhouse gas emissions, you need to follow four important steps:
Consume seasonal and locally produced products.
Eat more plant-based food than those of animal origin.
Be energy efficient while cooking.
Reuse leftover food to prepare other recipes.
By sticking to seasonal produce you are helping to respect the natural production cycle. When food travels around the world to reach our supermarket shelves, it uses a lot of energy (meaning emitting lots of greenhouse gases).
You can cut your carbon footprint by around 7% by choosing locally produced foods.
Did you know? In 2011 Spain imported more than 25 million tons of food, emitting more than 4 million tons of carbon dioxide.
Not only are you avoiding pesticides and GMOs (genetically modified organisms), organic agriculture can help to tackle climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
There is a direct correlation between nitrous oxide emissions and the amount of nitrogen fertiliser applied to agricultural land. Organic farming is more environmentally friendly, favours biodiversity and can also help combat global warming by storing carbon in the soil.
It is estimated that global livestock activity is responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions.
One example: growing 1kg of lentils emits only 1 kilo of carbon dioxide, but producing one kilo of veal emits 27 kilograms of carbon dioxide.
Vegetables also save a huge amount of water. 5,854 litres of water is needed to grow 1kg of lentils, whereas you’ll need 15,400 litres for the same amount of veal.
Despite its questionable reputation, the microwave is an efficient option for cooking when it comes to talking about climate change. A microwave may use more energy than other cooking devices, but it takes significantly less time to cook. You’ll find opting to use the microwave over the oven for a few meals a week will actually decrease your energy usage.
A pressure cooker reduces cooking time by up to 70%, meaning you’ll save a significant amount of energy compared with using a standard oven. When using a conventional oven, use it sparingly and try to use its maximum capacity, for example cooking several dishes at once, to make sure you don’t waste energy unnecessarily.
Spanish households throw away no less than 1.5 million tonnes of food every year. This is equivalent to half a kilo of food per person per week. Almost all of these foods are perfectly fit for consumption their waste has a significant carbon footprint.
Eating foods raw (especially fruit and vegetables) is a super healthy option. As there is no cooking, this also reduces their carbon footprint.
Household appliances account for more than 45% of home electricity consumption. If you opt for efficient appliances, in addition to respecting the environment, you are likely to save a lot of money on your electricity bill.
If your supermarket is close to home, walk to make sure you keep your emissions as low as possible. If you need to go shopping in the car, draw up a list and make the most of the trip - to avoid unnecessary emissions. Lists are also great to help you buy exactly what you need, which also reduces the chances of generating excessive food waste.
Take advantage of the capacity of a pressure cooker to cook in big batches, for example chickpeas. Anything you have left over can be used another day or popped in the freezer. Cooking on mass will ensure you save time, while helping to save the planet.
Where possible don’t choose fruit, vegetables or other products wrapped in plastic. When it comes to jars, bottles and other packaging, try and reuse them (for example glass jars can be used to store nuts or biscuits).