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Decreasing your carbon footprint: Beyond all-or-nothing solutions

By Sagan Morrow

When we talk about things like carbon footprint and reducing our impact on the environment in terms of changing our food sources, we usually talk about the BIG changes that we can make. Specifically, going meatless and adopting a vegetarian or vegan diet.

The problem with this, as with any lifestyle or behavioural change, is that going too big can actually be detrimental. If we ask or tell people to “go meatless,” and they are big meat-eaters, it can push them in the completely opposite direction because the task seems too insurmountable or drastic.

Here’s the thing: we tend to be pretty passionate about food and our personal food decisions, and it’s something we want to share with other people. But if we try to push our particular food values and beliefs onto someone else who doesn’t share those beliefs, that person is probably just going to be pushed further in the opposite direction than we want them to go in.

And this brings me back to the carbon footprint and meat issue. It’s all fine and good to note that livestock is a major factor with regards to climate change, but how can we take this information and actually do something about it? How can we take action to decrease our carbon footprint without feeling as though we’re depriving ourselves of something we love?

There are two really excellent options to go with for people who just don’t feel satisfied without some kind of meat in their meal (and I know a whole lot of people who feel this way, which is okay!):

  1. Eat smaller portions.
  2. Choose free-range, organic, and local meat.

For #1, eat smaller portions, you can up the intake of vegetables and decrease your meat portion; or if you are eating your meat in a salad or on a pizza, you can often cut the amount down by a third or a half without even noticing.

For #2, choose free-range, organic, and local meat, the best thing you can do is find a local farmer (or a farmers’ market, or a local grocery store supporting small farmers) who produces meat in an ethical, natural way and you’ll be reducing your carbon footprint without even reducing your beloved meat intake.

How do you feel about conventional vs. naturally grown meat? What are some of the biggest challenges you face with decreasing your carbon footprint?

Sagan Morrow is a Certified Holistic Nutritionist from Winnipeg. Her blog, Living Healthy in the Real World, covers topics of general health and wellness, nutrition, fitness, emotional well-being, natural and holistic remedies, and lifestyle issues. Sagan holds a B.A. in Rhetoric, Writing & Communication, which comes in handy for her freelance writing & editing services. In her spare time, Sagan can be found doing fashion photo shoots, writing non-fiction, or practicing her French. 

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