Sunday, March 18, 2012

LCHF and the environment

A low carb diet is often criticised for being bad for the environment. Do I agree with this statement? Yes and no. Like with  most other topics, I feel that there isn't a black and white answer to this. First of all, I don't think my meat consumption has increased much, if at all, after I started a low carb lifestyle. But, in general my consumption of animal produce has gone a bit up: For example, I have scrambled eggs on most mornings. In my life (life before low carb) I bought max 1 packet of eggs each month. An increased egg production can be bad for the environment, and definitely for the poor hens that are spending their life as egg-producing machines in tiny cages. But our eggs come from happy, Australian backyard hens that get  to roam around in plenty of space outside every day of the year, get treated really well and are fed food-scraps from the family that owns them. Even the cartons we get the eggs in are reused: When we have eaten the eggs, we take the cartons back to the family and get our new portion of eggs in the same ones. I believe that since my low carb way of life leads to me using more eggs in my cooking, the least thing I can do is to make sure all my eggs comes from a source that's both good for the animals and for the environment.

Another thing about my low carb lifestyle is that I drink less milk than I used to and use more cream in the cooking. It's a wellknown fact that the production of cream is a lot more resource-consuming than milk. However, the amounts of cream that I use are quite small, and I reckon that when I'm not buying litres and litres of milk, at least I am saving the environment all the milk cartons. 

Saving of packaging materials is a big plus for the environment with a low carb lifestyle: A true LCHF'er goes past all the aisles in the super market devoted to packaged cookies, crackers, potato chips and sugary drinks like juices and sodas. An average Aussie's consumption of all those items should add up to quite a few truck loads per year I can imagine. I feel that by not consuming any sodas or juices and the other items I can do quite good things for the environment. 

When we are talking about cookies, chips and other convenience food, there's another important point to mention: Palm-oil. A lot of processed food that's a no-no for a low-carber contain palm oils. I've seen the plantations on Borneo where they cut down the rain-forest to grow palms for palm-oil extraction - and it's a tragic sight... Needless to say, chopping down vast areas of pristine rain forest is not a good thing for the environment. I would estimate that I get minimal amounts of palm oil through my diet these days, so in that regard I'm doing good things for mother nature.

This next point may not be as relevant for Aussies as for us Scandinavians though: In Norway most fruits have to be imported from the opposite side of the planet, or grown in energy-intensive greenhouses. I eat very little fruit now, so at least if I were back home I would be doing a great thing for the environment. In Australia we are so lucky to have such opportunities for producing fruits and veggies locally. A great thing we can do to weigh up for our ''low carb sins'' is to try and eat only stuff that is in season in our local communities. 

It's been claimed that the earth could never sustain all it's inhabitants consuming  low carb foods. Therefore it follows that eating low carb is an egotistical act. Yes, it's true about the sustainability I think. BUT I don't believe that everyone on the planet needs to or should eat low carb. We are all such different individuals with different genetic make-up, metabolisms and levels of activity. I believe every one of us would benefit from cutting out all sugar and sugary drinks from our diets. And that everyone benefits from choosing nature-rice  instead of more refined products. But ''extreme low carb'' is perhaps only necessary for people who are obese or have ''unfortunate'' genetic make up, like myself. As well as people that have a range of other health-problems where cutting sugar and starch has proven beneficial. But then again, a larger percentage of people following low carb principles could lead to less diabetes and obesity in the first place...

What do you think? Is a low carb lifestyle bad for our planet? Or, perhaps you've got examples of other aspects of low carb eating that are actually good for Mother Earth?

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