Calculating carbon footprint as a non-diabetic physician on an LCHF diet

2018.05 Low Carb and Low Carbon - Ted Eytan MD-1001 793
2018.05 Low Carb and Low Carbon – Ted Eytan MD-1001 793 (View on Flickr.com)

People who eat animal-sourced foods to maintain their metabolic health are equicapable and equiresponsible for mitigating climate change.

Calculating carbon footprint

It’s very difficult, if not impossible, to accurately calculate one’s carbon footprint, because of the different assumptions made about lifestyle in each model.

I’ve purchased offsets through the United Nations so I’m using their calculator as a baseline. A more comprehensive calculator with good documentation developed at UC Berkeley is also available (see references).

Diet

Estimations of animal sourced food vs a vegan diet seem to range between increase in emissions by 0.8 – 2 metric tons of carbon emissions/person/year. The UN model adds 1.21 tons for a meat-inclusive diet so that’s what’s I went with.

I may follow-up with a post that goes into more detail about my calculations here. In the meantime:

  • Animal sourced food diets emit more carbon than vegan ones, the question is by what margin
    • I am aware of the literature around regenerative agriculture and other approaches; my understanding is that these are still in the theoretical stage – if anyone has better information, send my way.
  • Models I’ve found are typically based on the Standard American Diet (SAD) and not low carbohydrate, healthy fat, real food (LCHF) approaches
    • They include snacking, refined grains, and artificial foods, and do not incorporate impacts of greater health care use from these things
    • They assess food source based on carbon emissions per kcal, which has implications based on nutrient density, amount of food required for nourishment and associated carbon costs (packaging, transport, etc etc).

Goods and services, including health care

Here’s that image, again.

2018.05 Low Carb and Low Carbon - Ted Eytan MD 1001-766
2018.05 Low Carb and Low Carbon – Ted Eytan MD 1001-766 (View on Flickr.com)

Energy – source of greatest emissions

  • Not owning a car reduces emissions by 2.51 metric tons / year
  • Household energy use and air travel are significant contributors to the carbon footprint

The much greater impact overall is in large organizations doing this at scale – reducing fossil fuel use and investing in renewable energy and regenerative agriculture projects.

Overall footprint, carbon offsets

The greatest impact on carbon footprint is in managing energy use, and that includes energy used for transportation as well as to create goods and services whose use could be averted (such as health care).

The much greater impact overall is in large organizations doing this at scale – reducing fossil fuel use and investing in renewable energy and regenerative agriculture projects.

I have purchased carbon offsets for the footprint above – see: Purchasing Carbon Offsets as a non-diabetic physician on an LCHF diet – How, What, Why

Our climate is changing:

2018.05 Low Carb and Low Carbon - Ted Eytan MD-1001-781
2018.05 Low Carb and Low Carbon – Ted Eytan MD-1001-781 (View on Flickr.com)

And, we’re in the era of diabetes reversal, why don’t more doctors know?

Feel free to check my work in the comments, we have a desire to know rather than a desire to be right.

References

  1. United Nations: offset.climateneutralnow.org
  2. CoolClimate Network: coolclimate.org/calculator
  3. Jones CM, Kammen DM. Quantifying Carbon Footprint Reduction Opportunities for U.S. Households and Communities. Environ Sci Technol [Internet]. 2011 May [cited 2019 Oct 3];45(9):4088–95. Available from: https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/es102221h

Disclosures

See my disclosures page. Short version: I have none.

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