Climate change and the elephant in the room


In Lithuania, we are currently celebrating "Climate Week", during which we traditionally devote more time to environmental issues. Evaluating the program prepared by the Ministry of Environment, we can notice many discussions and other events aimed at both the general public and professionals, involving experts not only from Lithuania, but also from other countries. However, we seem to be missing the elephant in the room - the missed discussion about the impact of our food choices on the environment around us.

Livestock production is responsible for 13-18 % of greenhouse gases. However, it is surprising that neither time nor space is allocated to this extremely important issue in the official program of the Lithuanian Climate Week.

While Lithuania is standing still, other countries are already applying various programs to promote the consumption of plant-based food, thus contributing to the preservation of nature (and human health, too). In this race for progress, Denmark has taken the lead, having approved a comprehensive strategy in mid-October, a roadmap to promote the consumption of plant-based foods and reduce the impact of nutrition on the environment. The Danish approach not only helps to address the environmental consequences of food production, but also emphasizes the health benefits and ethical aspects of a plant-based diet.

The plan presented by Denmark stands out for its complexity. It focuses not only on education or promoting a plant-based diet, but on a range of measures to bring about real change: 

  • financial instruments for businesses and farmers developing or transitioning to more sustainable farming practices and plant-based food production;
  • development of scientific research, promoting innovation, innovative processes and the development of new products;
  • raising the qualifications of professionals working in the field of food;
  • reorientation of public finances: public institutions are encouraged to prioritize the purchase of plant-based food products, thus setting an example for the country's population.

It is very important that the state in Denmark has taken a leading role in actively promoting a plant-based diet through marketing campaigns and other initiatives, emphasizing the benefits of reducing meat and dairy consumption. Another important element is stakeholder involvement: the Danish government works with the food industry, restaurants and other stakeholders to promote the development and promotion of plant-based foods.

Denmark's approach to solving the role of food in climate change is an example that Lithuania could adopt. Celebrating Climate Week, we should recognize that a truly responsible approach to the problem of climate change must also include our dietary choices, and the preparation of a plant-based nutrition promotion plan must appear on the lists of the nearest tasks of the responsible institutions. 

Such a strategy would not only reduce the country's contribution to climate change, but also improve public health and reduce the burden on health care systems. As responsible global citizens, we owe it to ourselves, future generations and the planet as a whole to recognize that our food choices have a significant impact on climate change. Therefore, we need to take concrete steps towards a more sustainable, plant-based future.

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