Net Zero Eating will help us eat better and green whilst reducing our carbon footprint. So how could our favourite dishes of today be changed in response to the climate crisis?
A Guest Post by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)
Healthy eating has become a popular trend in society, with many of us adopting plant-based diets and opting for more sustainable food choices. Net Zero eating strives to maximise the value of resource use whilst minimising adverse environmental impacts across all aspects, from growing crops through to consumption patterns. Implementing a Net Zero diet not only offers health benefits but can also combat global warming and promote economic growth.
The Recipe for a Net Zero Food System
Perhaps one of the most important things we can do to help save the Earth is to switch out meat-heavy diets for more plant-based ones. Plant-based foods not only provide us with an abundance of nutrients, but they also tend to be less expensive than their animal counterpart and healthier overall. Billions worldwide have started to move away from traditional diets to embrace a greener lifestyle.
It’s not too late to transform our food culture. There are many ways we can work together to protect our planet whilst still providing food security worldwide by focusing more on sustainable practices and diets.
By 2030, the future of food may look very different: more plant-based proteins, less dairy and meat and more sustainable food choices on our menus. UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has visualised how we could eat in a Net Zero future.
Foods of the Future
The research supported by UKRI has found that Net Zero Eating will help us eat better and green whilst reducing our carbon footprint. So how could our favourite dishes of today be changed in response to the climate crisis?
UKRI has visualised the Nation’s favourite meals in 2030…
The Net Zero Burger
In 2030, we could be eating longer-lasting salad leaves. Research shows that reducing water use by 20% when growing salad results in smaller and tougher leaves, meaning a longer shelf life.
In 2030, we could be eating more sourdough. The benefits of sourdough bread made with local, organic flour are plenty as it is one the most sustainable options with no chemical fertilisers used in producing commercial wheat and yeast needed for the homemade dough to grow.
Plant or Insect-Based Burger
In 2030 we could be eating low emission insect burgers! Insects require less space, water and 12-25 times less feed than cattle to produce the same amount of protein. Funded by Innovate UK, Bug Farm Foods has created VEXo – a minced meat replacement made from insects with over 80% reduced saturated fat content and other health benefits.
The Net Zero Fish and Chips
In 2030, we could be eating engineered potato crops to reduce waste. A Horticulture and Potato Initiative (HAPI) project successfully integrated host resistance and fungicides to protect potato crops and reduce the need for pesticides. The project also used genetic engineering techniques to reduce pre-and post-harvest losses in potatoes.
In 2030, we could be eating lab-grown fish. Blockchain technology will help give consumers more visibility into where their food comes from and their sustainability levels. Start-up Wild Type is developing salmon products using cellular agriculture – removing the need for fishing or farming.
In 2030, we could be eating more seasonal or dried vegetables. Increased UK veg production will allow us to eat home-grown veg all year-round and dry imported peas have less impact than fresh, as they are transported by sea or road rather than air.
The Net Zero Full English
In 2030 we could be eating ozone-protected fruit. New research funded by NERC shows that ozone can protect fruit like tomatoes from decay for weeks after exposure – leading to less waste.
Sustainably Fed Pork
In 2030 we could be eating more sustainably fed pork. Swapping to more sustainable pig feed made from locally available waste products will reduce the carbon impact of pork.
Low-Emission Fed Hens
In 2030, hens could be fed more sustainable feed. Alternative feeds such as Lemna (duckweed) can reduce the carbon footprint of eggs.
The Net Zero Sunday Roast
In 2030 we could be eating faster-growing veg. Controlled-environment agriculture allows veg to be grown where it’s needed year-round.
Smaller Portions of Meat
In 2030 cows could be wearing emission-blocking masks and we could be eating smaller portions of beef. UK company Zelp has created a burp-catching mask for cows designed to reduce methane emissions from cattle by 60%. Although methane inhibitors in feed could reduce impact by around 30%, meat and in particular, beef, is one of the highest impact foods.
Innovative Potato Packaging
In 2030, innovative packaging could reduce potato waste. Research funded by BBSRC shows that new packaging that delays greening in potatoes by blocking certain wavelengths of light could help reduce the number of potatoes thrown away.
A Greener Lifestyle
As the UK’s Net Zero initiative strives to make greener, more sustainable living possible – it is up to us as individuals to take responsibility for our own food choices. See how to make the most of green living and the flexitarian lifestyle with these tasty and nutritious vegan and vegetarian recipes.