As the UK tries to reduce its carbon emissions to net-zero by 2050, it’s time to encourage people to look a little closer to home for ways to help reduce their own contribution. The largest source of carbon emissions from households in the UK is food and drink but there are changes we can make to help lower this. With some manufacturers now producing packaging for their products that detail the CO2e that has gone into making these, it can help people understand just how environmentally friendly their home-cooked meals are.
Viessmann took four of the UK’s most popular dishes and created carbon labels to show the carbon footprint behind the meals. These were based on meals that would feed four people and they then calculated how far you could travel as a way to compare the CO2 levels.
Fish and chips
Britain is known for it’s love of fish and chips, a traditional takeaway dish for many households and enjoyed on many occasions during trips to seasides up and down the country. But how much CO2 goes into this meal when recreating it at home? A total of 3,215g CO2 would be produced to make this, which is the equivalent of travelling 18 km by car.
Another classic British meal is the beloved roast dinner, enjoyed by many typically on a Sunday. Viessmann based this on the classic choice of roast beef and Yorkshire pudding and found that it would produce 28,014.28g CO2, which was the highest CO2 producing meal out of the four recipes. This was the equivalent of driving 140km.
This Italian dish is much loved by many UK households and often recreated at home. But did you know making spaghetti bolognese for four people is the same as travelling 79 km by car, equalling 15,79.64g CO2? It’s the second highest CO2 producing meal from the list.
A full English breakfast can be versatile and suited to the individual person, but to highlight the full carbon label for this, all items that you would usually find in this dish have been included. This meal would produce 5,747.43g CO2 based on four servings, which is similar to travelling 29 km by car.
How you can reduce your food carbon footprint
It’s interesting to see how much CO2 each meal would produce and hopefully by highlighting these numbers, more people will begin to look for ways to reduce the carbon footprints that go into home cooked meals.
Whether you reduce the dairy and meat in your diet, plan your meals ahead to reduce waste, or buy ingredients which are in season and locally sourced, making small changes like these to your home cooked meals can make a difference. It’s also worth considering finding low carbon recipes to try at home.
To create a delicious yet low carbon vegan shepherd’s pie check out the recipe below.
Vegan shepherd’s pie
- 300g maris piper potatoes
- 300g sweet potatoes
- 20g dairy-free margarine
- 1/2 onion
- 1 carrot
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 stick of celery
- 1/2 tbsp coriander seeds
- Olive oil
- 1/4 bunch of fresh thyme
- 175g chestnut mushrooms
- 6 sun-dried tomatoes
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- Vegan red wine
- 50ml organic vegetable stock
- 200g tin of lentils
- 200g tin of chickpeas
- 2.5 sprigs of fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 sprigs of fresh rosemary
- 1/2 lemon
- 15g fresh breadcrumbs
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F.
- Peel the potatoes and chop into chunks of about 2 cm. Add the potatoes to a large pan of cold, salted water and place on a medium heat. Bring to the boil then simmer for 15 minutes or until tender. Add the sweet potatoes after 5 minutes.
- Drain the potatoes and leave to steam dry, before placing them back into the pan with dairy-free margarine. Season with salt and black pepper and mash until smooth before setting aside.
- Peel and finely chop the onion, carrots, a garlic clove and celery.
- Using a pestle, crush the coriander seeds and mortar until fine. Add a splash of oil to a medium pan on a medium heat and add the crushed coriander seeds and the thyme leaves, cooking for around 10 minutes or until soft.
- Chop the mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes and add to the pan with the vinegar and 1tbsp of sun-dried tomato oil.
- Cook for 10 minutes then add a splash of wine before turning the heat up, letting it bubble. Stir in the veg stock, lentils and chickpeas, then leave it for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Roughly chop the parsley leaves before stirring into the pan. Season to taste and transfer to a baking dish before layering the mash over the top.
- With the remaining garlic clove, slice thinly before placing into a bowl with rosemary leaves, lemon zest, breadcrumbs and 1 tbsp oil. Mix and scatter over the mash.
- Place the dish into the hot oven for 10 minutes, then grill for a further 3 minutes or until golden, before serving with seasonal greens.
Viessmann is one of the leading international manufacturers of systems for heating, industrial energy and cooling. For Viessmann, sustainability in action means striking a balance between economy, ecology, and social responsibility, meeting current needs without compromising the quality of life of future generations. Find them on:
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