The Environmental Working Group has released a new Meat Eater's Guide to Climate Change and Health, that demonstrates the benefits, both for health and the environment, of eating more vegetables and less meat. But beyond that, it draws a clear line between the climate impacts of certain kinds of meat, like beef and lamb (worse) and poultry (better). Surprisingly, potatoes, rice and peanut butter may be better than meat, but are considerably worse for the environment than lentils, tomatoes and beans. Tuna's not great, but farmed salmon is considerably worse. Milk is quite good, but cheese? Don't even ask.
The report recommends some simple actions we can all take to reduce the impact that our diet has on the environment, and in the process shed a few pounds and clear our arteries a bit. Eat less, and waste nothing. Eat more plants. Eliminate one hamburger, or its meat equivalent, per week. Avoid meat altogether once a week. And skip the cheese that day, too. When you eat meat, substitute chicken for beef more frequently. And choose lean cuts of grassfed, pasture-raised, organic and local meats whenever possible, to further lessen the impact of those indulgences.
If you can't read the chart clearly, here's the same list of foods, in order from best to worst, with some recipe suggestions for the "green" foods:
Lentils: Alice Waters's Lentil Salad
Tomatoes: Vegan Tomato-Rosemary Scones
2% Milk Pumpkin Milkshake
Beans: Summer Salad with Fresh Fava Beans
Tofu: 7 Vegetarian Tofu Recipes
Broccoli: Warm Quinoa-Broccoli Salad with Carrot-Ginger Dressing
Yogurt: Grilled Fruit Kabobs with Yogurt Sauce
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