If we reduced global meat consumption by 50% and replaced these calories through a vegetarian diet, we would move Overshoot Day 15 days (10 days are from methane emissions).If we cut food waste in half worldwide, we would move Overshoot Day 10 days.
Food demand makes up 26% of the global Ecological Footprint.
Two major issues when addressing food sufficiency, malnutrition, and hunger (UN Sustainable Development Goal 2) are:
- Resource inefficiency in food production
Animal calories are significantly more resource intensive than plant calories to produce. In fact, China’s government is committed to reducing meat consumption by 50% by 2030. This would reduce the Ecological Footprint by more than 210 million global hectares and move the date of Overshoot Day back 3 days (according to China’s current Ecological Footprint figures, and including the associated methane emissions).
- Food waste
About one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption — 1.3 billion tonnes every year — gets lost or wasted, with high and low-income countries dissipating roughly the same quantities of food, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation. That’s equivalent to 9% of humanity’s Ecological Footprint.
In the United States, an estimated 40% of the food goes to waste. That’s the equivalent of the total Ecological Footprint of Peru and Sweden combined, or the total biocapacity of Germany.
One target of UN Sustainable Development Goal 12 Sustainable Consumption and Production is to halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses, by 2030. If we cut food waste in half worldwide, we would move Overshoot Day by 10 days. To be sustainable, development ultimately must also fit within our planet’s resource budget.
THE DOUBLE PYRAMID OF FOOD
In partnership with Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition, Global Footprint Network’s assessment of the Ecological Footprint of various foods highlights this overarching pattern: the healthier the food, the lower its ecological impact.
A nutritionally balanced, vegetarian diet boasts an Ecological Footprint that is 2.5 times lower than that of one comprised mainly of animal-based proteins. Therefore, food that should make up a larger part of our diet are also those with lower Footprints.
The tasty traditional Mediterranean diet fits the bill perfectly: lots of fresh vegetables, grains, olive oil, and low amounts of animal products.
What is your favorite Mediterranean dish?
How will you #MoveTheDate?
Take your first step today!