Lifestyle

Take the veg pledge

To make a difference for the environment, can you commit to making one further meal a day vegetarian?

New initiative Cool Food, by PECT, aims to take a bite out of climate change by encouraging people to make small changes to their diet and food shopping habits. One way in which you can do this is to pledge online at www.coolfood.net to opt for more meat and fish-free meals. If you swap out one meal a day to make it vegetarian this could save more than 2kg of carbon per day.

‘In terms of the food we eat, consuming meat and fish has the biggest impact on our environment,’ explains PECT’s Health and Wellbeing Lead Karen Igho. ‘Every time you make a meal vegetarian, you could save the amount carbon equivalent to driving at least four miles in your car. ‘We’re not asking people to give up animal products entirely, instead we’re just recommending that you reduce your consumption and source local, ethical and organic products where possible to help tackle climate change.’

Vegetarian meals and climate change
Globally the process of cultivating, growing, harvesting and transporting food causes almost a third of the world’s carbon emissions. By making small changes to our own diets, when combined with other people’s food commitments, we can achieve big reductions and help to slow down the rate of climate change. The environmental benefits of eating less meat has been hitting the headlines a lot recently, and it’s certainly not without its controversy!

The University of Cambridge caused a stir this year when it decided to remove beef, lamb and unsustainable fish from its menus to cut food-related carbon emissions by a third. The university’s catering service made the change across its 14 outlets and 1,500 annual events, and its catering staff were given sustainability training and vegan cookery classes. In the UK, the Committee on Climate Change has advised cutting lamb and beef pasture by up to 50% by 2050. A recent study by the University of Oxford, published in the journal Nature, showed meat and dairy produces 60% of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions, but delivers just 18% of calories. Our appetite for meat has a significant impact on the environment. Therefore, why not try cooking some of your favourite recipes with meat-free alternatives instead? You can replace some of your meat with other healthy protein sources such as lentils, beans, nuts and seeds.

I’m in! How can I pledge?
At the heart of Cool Food is an online tool, designed to recommend and capture commitments to change food habits. The tool helps users to identify and record the financial and environmental benefits of their changes to help motivate long-term positive behaviour change. In addition to the 2kg of carbon a day veggie challenge, you can also pledge to make your own meals, introduce dairy-free days, reduce food waste, cut your tea and coffee intake, swap soft drinks for water, and buy local, seasonal and organic. You can reduce your carbon footprint in three easy steps: choose your commitments (one or more), measure the impact, and connect with the Cool Food community to get support, hints and tips to help you reach your target.

Get involved
We all know that we need to shop, cook and eat more sustainably, so why bother signing up to Cool Food? Well, Cool Food will do the hard work and show you just howmuch carbon and money you’re saving each week by sticking to your commitments. There will also be lots of support with a range of hints, tips and delicious recipes to inspire you to keep going.

• Pledge online today at www.coolfood. net and record your progress. The project has been launched in collaboration with Peterborough-based charity PECT, Cornwall Food Foundation and Al’Terre Breizh. Cool Food is a Franco-British project created under the Interreg France (Channel) England Programme to support the transition to a low-carbon economy.

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