How to be a sustainable student: Eating less animal products

Decreasing consumption of animal products can help reduce one's carbon footprint

The best way to go green is to eat green.

A student can lower their own carbon footprint by decreasing the amount of animal products they consume.

According to a study published earlier this month in Nature, the environmental effects the food system has on the Earth could increase by 50 to 90 percent between now and 2050 if actions aren't taken to change humans' lifestyles. 

This means that we will be living beyond the planetary boundaries that define a safe operating space for human existence. 

Food's carbon footprint consists of greenhouse gas emissions produced by, "growing, rearing, farming, processing, transporting, storing, cooking and disposing of the food you eat," according to sustainability website Green Eatz

Scientists are asking for a change to counter drastic environmental effects caused by food consumption, and one of the first things some are turning to is encouraging plant-based diets and locally sourced goods. 

This doesn’t mean students need to cut meat out of their life completely. It just means that cutting some animal-based foods out of their life can help mitigate the detrimental impacts of their diet.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, methane released by cattle is responsible for the greatest amount of gas emissions, representing about 65 percent of the livestock sector’s total emissions.

By using milk alternatives and avoiding red meat, students can help decrease the demand for dairy products. 

Going vegetarian as a college student can seem pretty daunting – but it does not mean you need to feel guilty for having that Crunchwrap Supreme during your 2 a.m. Taco Bell run. 

For humans, just being conscious of what they are eating and taking small steps to reducing their consumption of animal products is enough to make a difference. 

Searching for meatless meals on campus is not as hard as one might think. There are many vegetarian, pescatarian and vegan options for food on campus. 

Sun Devil dining halls are supportive of vegetarian and vegan diets and have a Daily Root station, which features a plant-based menu. In addition, ASU has a list of vegetarian and vegan options for restaurants on all four campuses. 

If you’re in the mood for a quick meal swipe, the POD markets on campus offer vegetarian and vegan Grab ‘N Go sandwiches, salads and more. 

PETA2, the largest youth animal rights group in the world, has even given ASU an A+ on its Vegan Reporter Card

There are other food places on and around ASU’s Tempe campus which offer a great variety of healthy, plant-based diet friendly options. 

Read more here: Hot Cheetos no more: Students have several healthy options around the Tempe campus

If students want to be conscious of their impact on the planet, actions that might seem small, like transitioning to soy milk or choosing a veggie wrap instead of a BLT, can hold more power than one would think. 

Whether you are cutting meat products out of your diet completely or opting for the veggie option on occasion, small choices can have large impacts. 

Reach the reporter at or follow @jessiemy94 on Twitter. 

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