Food and Climate

In October 2021, the City of Boynton Beach proudly became the first city in the world to endorse the Plant Based Treaty! This landmark international treaty puts food systems at the heart of combating the climate crisis, and aims to promote a shift to more healthy and sustainable plant-based diets.
 
Reducing meat consumption is one of the most powerful actions individuals can take to help address climate change. Eating more plant-based foods will reduce demand for meat, thereby reducing deforestation, fossil fuel use, and methane emissions from cattle waste. It is not necessary to go fully vegan or vegetarian to make a difference. Even selecting one day a week, such as “Meatless Monday,” is an easy way that each one of us can lead a more climate-friendly lifestyle. 

The City of Boynton Beach’s Green Business Recognition Program recognizes restaurants that complete actions within the areas of waste reduction, recycling, energy & water conservation, and other green business practices. All participating restaurants must offer at least one vegan or vegetarian main course as a program requirement.  View a map of the City’s green restaurants.

A meatless meal today helps keep climate change at bay!    

Meatless Monday is a global movement with a simple message: “skip meat once a week.” Eating less meat and more healthy plant-based foods can help combat climate change, preserve precious land and water resources, and reduce the incidence of chronic preventable diseases.  Meatless Monday works because it provides a regular cue to take action on Monday, which research shows is the day people are most open to making positive changes. Starting each week practicing Meatless Monday can lead people to eat more fruits, vegetables and plant-based meals throughout the rest of the week.

Visit the Meatless Monday Campaign website for free resources, how-to-guides, and recipes to help you practice Meatless Monday at home or start a campaign in your workplace or other organization. Meatless Monday has been adopted by a wide range of participants, including home cooks, schools, hospitals, restaurants, media and whole communities in over 40 countries around the world.

The City of Boynton Beach is starting a Meatless Monday Challenge to encourage climate-friendly food choices and share delicious recipes among staff. 

Are you moving toward a plant-based diet? Contact us to share your experience! 

A robust body of science points to plant-rich diets as one of the most effective ways that individuals can help mitigate climate change. The transition to a plant-rich diet was ranked #4 out of the top 100 climate solutions by Project Drawdown, a team of 200 scientists that modeled global strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This is because meat production has an outsize climate footprint, accounting for at least 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions—the same as all the cars, trucks, airplanes, and ships in the world! Animal agriculture contributes to the rapid accumulation of all three of the main greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide) in the atmosphere. Here’s how:

•    When forests are cleared for livestock production, large amounts of stored carbon are released into the air.
•    Cows and other livestock emit methane in their manure and when they burp. Methane is about 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a heat-trapping gas.
•    Fertilizer, farm machinery, and transportation of food rely on fossil fuels that further contribute to global warming.   

Among protein sources, beef and lamb have the highest climate footprints, producing 10-17 times more emissions than the same amount of protein from plant-based sources like tofu, beans, or nuts. Pork and chicken are in the middle, with higher emissions than plants but much lower than beef. People who eat a meat-heavy diet can reduce their food-related climate footprint by at least 33% by moving to a vegetarian diet. For those who don’t want to go that far, skipping just one serving of beef per week for a year can reduce emissions equivalent to driving about 350 miles, and can save about 22,000 gallons of water!

Reducing red meat consumption also benefits public health. In the United States and other Western countries, diets are often centered around meat and include overall caloric intake higher than nutritional recommendations. According to The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the average American eats about 20-30% more calories today than they did in 1980s, thanks in part to an increase in meat consumption. Health experts generally agree that most people can meet their daily protein requirements from plant-based foods such as beans, nuts, soy, and other vegetables. Replacing a few servings of meat each week with plant protein can improve heart health, greatly reduce the risk of heart disease, reduce obesity and the risk of type 2 diabetes.

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