As the link between climate change and the global food system has become clear, consumers are more conscious of the environmental impacts of their food purchases. Companies have responded with plans to put carbon labels on their products to show total estimated greenhouse gas emissions associated with the product.

Total emissions can be difficult to calculate as the carbon footprint of food includes emissions from land conversion, the growing and harvesting processes, livestock digestion, transportation, packaging, and food processing. In 2007, Tesco, the UK’s biggest supermarket chain, attempted to label all its products with the total number of emissions, but halted its project due to the complexity of the calculations.

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However, companies like Carbon Trust have been doing carbon calculations, certification program, and carbon labels since 2007.

Source: Carbon Trust Product carbon footprint certification and labelling

Recently, there has been a resurgence in the carbon labeling movement as several large companies have announced their own plans with carbon labels. Quorn claims to be the first meat-free food manufacturer to introduce carbon labels on its products and have their emission figures verified by Carbon Trust.

Source: Quorn

The plant-based milk brand, Oatly, has put their carbon labels online and on some product packaging on European products, and is planning on adding labels to U.S. products soon.

Source: Oatly

Unilever, the multinational company, announced its plan to track and communicate the carbon footprint of its goods and services as part of their broader goal to fight climate change. Nestlé, the multinational food and drink corporation, is also reportedly considering carbon labels.

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Just Salad plans to become the first U.S. restaurant chain to carbon label its menu by Climate Week, which begins September 21st.

“Food is the strongest lever we have as individuals for fighting climate change,” says Sandra Noonan, Just Salad’s chief sustainability officer. “If, as a society, we start paying attention to our dietary carbon footprints, much as we pay attention to our daily caloric intake, we could alter the course of planetary history.”

Read more of One Green Planet coverage on Quorn’s carbon labels and how plant-based foods benefit the environment.

Eat More Plant-Based Meals! 

For those of you interested in eating more plant-based, we highly recommend downloading the Food Monster App — with over 15,000 delicious recipes it is the largest plant-based recipe resource to help reduce your environmental footprint, save animals and get healthy! And, while you are at it, we encourage you to also learn about the environmental and health benefits of a plant-based diet.

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Reducing your meat intake and eating more plant-based foods is also known to help with chronic inflammation, heart health, mental wellbeing, fitness goals, nutritional needs, allergies, gut health, and more! Dairy consumption also has been linked to many health problems, including acne, hormonal imbalance, cancer, prostate cancer and has many side effects

Here are some resources to get you started:

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