How do the foods you eat impact climate change? Try this quiz to learn more


The world’s food system is responsible for between one-quarter and one-third of the GHGs that humans generate each year. This includes raising and harvesting all the plants, animals, and animal products we eat such as beef, chicken, fish, milk, corn, kale and more, as well as processing, packaging, and shipping food all over the world.

There are many ways that food contributes to climate change.

1) When forests are cleared to make room for farms and livestock – large stores of carbon are released into the atmosphere which heats up the planet

2) When cows, sheep, and goats digest their food they burp up methane, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change

3) Animal manure and rice paddies are another source of methane.

4) Fossil fuels used to operate farm machinery, make fertilizer and ship food around the globe, all release GHGs.

Some foods have a bigger impact than others on climate change. Meat and dairy generally have the largest impact. Livestock accounts for around 14.5% of the world’s GHGs each year, while plant-based foods tend to have the smallest impact. But the way livestock is raised is also important – to GHG emissions and to the environment in general. Is the meat pasture-raised or from a feedlot? Meat has a higher climate impact because it takes more land, energy, and water to produce a pound of animal protein than it does to produce a pound of plant protein.

Take a quiz to see how your diet contributes to climate change

For more info, check out this Q&A about GHGs and food

You can reduce your climate footprint by eating more plant-based foods, switching to lower impact foods, and making sure you use up the food you buy before it goes to waste.