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Less Meat, Less Heat: US Diets Help Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 35%!

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According to a new study, greenhouse gas emissions from US diets have declined by 35% over the last two decades due to a diminishing taste for meat, particularly beef. The shift toward a more sustainable diet may help the United States meet its climate ambitions, but the country's emissions continue to exceed the EAT-Lancet Planetary Diet limits. The decrease in diet-related emissions has not resulted in a nutritional shortfall because calorie consumption has remained constant.

To cut emissions, the study suggests reducing beef consumption even further and adopting plant-based diets. Demographic disparities in nutrition were also discovered, with Black women having the smallest dietary footprint and men aged 35 to 49 having the largest, implying the need for targeted measures to minimize emissions.

Here are some of the key points:

  • A new study found that the greenhouse gas emissions of US diets have decreased by 35% over the past twenty years due to a declining appetite for meat, especially beef.

  • By using data from a national dietary survey of US adults between 2003 and 2018, the researchers found that the diet-related greenhouse gas emissions of US citizens almost halved, falling from 4 kilograms of CO2 equivalent to 2.45 kg CO2e over the 15 year study period.

  • The amount of calories that US citizens consumed didn’t change noticeably, suggesting that the new dietary trend away from meat hasn’t caused a nutritional deficit.

  • The decline in diet-related emissions has not resulted in a nutritional deficit since the amount of calories consumed has remained stable.

  • Demographic differences in diet were also found, with Black women having the smallest dietary footprint, and men aged 35 to 49 having the highest dietary footprint, suggesting the need for targeted interventions to reduce emissions.

  • The study recommends reducing beef consumption even further and embracing plant-based foods to reduce emissions.

  • The researchers also found that the emissions of the current average US diet still exceed, by two-fold, the limits imposed by the EAT-Lancet Planetary Diet, which is globally recommended for a more sustainable food system.

How does this fit into the Hierarchy of Agency?

Be accountable to yourself! This article shows how we need to really think about our emissions footprint. Not only should we worry about corporations and other large entities and how their managing their footprints, but we need to understand our own outputs at the individual level. Together we can spark change. Together we can do anything.

Learn more about the Hierarchy of Agency by visiting our page:

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