The Climate Diet
Trail Runner|Spring 2021
AN ATHLETE’S GUIDE TO CLIMATE-FRIENDLY EATING.
Zoë Rom

Most athletes are keenly aware of how what they eat affects their performance. But how does it affect the environment?

The science behind food’s climate footprint can feel confusing, and the problem of climate change overwhelming. But, taking just a few simple steps to alter your eating habits can have a big impact.

The Problems

Roughly one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions come from food production, and about half of that comes from animal agriculture. Food production also taps about 70 percent of usable freshwater and occupies 40 percent of global land.

Food production is the largest factor threatening species with extinction, according to a 2017 study published in the journal Nature, contributing to deforestation, desertification, eutrophication (an excess of nutrients in water due to runoff), coastal damage and degradation of reefs and marine ecosystems. Agriculture isn’t just a driver of climate change, but also a victim of its shifting conditions as the climate grows less stable and increasingly unpredictable.

As Jonathan Safran Foer wrote in his book, We Are The Weather, “Changing how we eat will not be enough, on its own, to save the planet, but we cannot save the planet without changing how we eat.”

While global food systems as they exist may not be sustainable, there is hope. Because three times a day (or more, athletes are hungry!), we trail runners can rethink this relationship to the planet, starting with what’s on your plate.

Experts have identified two simple actions as being the most impactful— minimizing food waste and reducing consumption of animal products.

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