Want climate-friendly holiday meals? Supersize impact by cooking less

‘Tis the season for sharing not too much.

Traditionally, end-of-year holiday feasts are a time of abundance. Thanksgiving celebrates the bounty of the harvest, and December’s religious holidays are an opportunity to show gratitude for family and friends by rolling out a “Beauty and the Beast”-style presentation of fabulous food.

But as the conversation about the impact of food choices on the climate crisis picks up, one thing has become clear: People don’t really like being told what to eat or not eat.

It’s true that the climate impact of meat and dairy is greater than that of fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains. This discussion can include nearly endless detail and occupies the minds of many researchers worldwide.

Per 100 grams of protein, for example, beef production results in more than double the emission of planet-warming greenhouse gases as lamb, which is more than twice as damaging as pork, which is still worse than poultry. So, sticking with turkey as a meat option is a good place to start. Root vegetables and mashed potatoes are more sustainable than green beans or leafy vegetables. For dessert, food columnist Tamar Haspel recommends sticking with pies featuring food that grows on trees, such as apples, cherries or pecans, when trying to offer choices that limit global warming.

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