This week, the New York Times published an interactive guide to educate readers about the climate impact of various foods. The guide is divided into subcategories that focus on meat, dairy, seafood, and plants, and answers questions about how consuming foods in these categories affects the environment. The guide stipulates that while meat production is known to be environmentally damaging, the negative impact of dairy products is often overlooked. “A number of studies have found that milk typically has a smaller climate footprint than chicken, eggs, or pork per gram of protein. Yogurt, cottage cheese, and cream cheese are similar to milk,” the guide states. “But many other types of cheese, such as cheddar or mozzarella, can have a significantly bigger footprint than chicken or pork, since it typically takes about 10 pounds of milk to make one pound of cheese.” The guide is dotted with charts that compare the emissions produced by various foods and dietary habits, each showing that consuming a plant-based diet is the most climate-friendly choice. “Modern agriculture inevitably contributes to climate change, but some foods have a bigger impact than others,” the guide states. “Beef, lamb, and cheese tend to do the most climate damage. Pork, chicken, and eggs are in the middle. Plants of all kinds typically have the lowest impact.” The guide also includes a quiz that asks readers to report their typical meal to determine the climate impact of the foods they eat daily. Choosing only vegan options puts quiz-takers in the “low impact” category, a group that is responsible for less than 10 percent of diet-related greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.
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