The Environmental Impact of Your Diet: Shocking Truth Revealed

The choices we make for our foods impact more than just our health, there are also significant environmental impacts to consider. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has reported that between 10.8 – 19.1 billion tonnes of CO2-equivalent (CO2e) emissions per year are produced by food production and food waste. That equates to between 21% to 37% of total global emissions. The increase in global population only exacerbates the urgency to address our inefficient and unsustainable food system.

As we analyze the environmental impact on our natural resources from food production and disposal, it is essential to address what we at the consumer level can do to drive positive change. Dietary choices in support of plant-based alternatives is the number one action we can take to reduce our impact, followed by a reduction in food waste.

When purchasing food or supplements, it is important to support products that are ethically sourced and support sustainable agriculture. Supplemental health options like shilajit can potentially support a reduction in emissions while prioritizing an eco-conscious lifestyle.

Understanding the Environmental Cost of Our Diet

The Environmental Impact of Your Diet: Shocking Truth Revealed
The Carbon Footprint of Food Production:

Over 25% of all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions – including carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide – stem from food production (2). Animal agriculture, particularly cattle production, is the largest contributor. As the graph below illustrates, beef production is a major emitter, generating 99.48 kg of GHGs per kilogram of food compared to just 3.16 kg of GHGs for tofu (1).

The trend is consistent throughout the food system, showing that animal products have higher GHG footprints than their plant-based alternatives. Of the top 10 highest-emitting food items, 8 are meat or animal products. The greenhouse gas emissions contribute to a global warming effect that directly heats the atmosphere. Unfortunately, the environmental consequences of meat production extend beyond greenhouse gas emissions. Livestock farming also requires vast amounts of fertile land, contributing to deforestation and habitat loss.

The Environmental Impact of Your Diet: Shocking Truth Revealed

Land Use and Deforestation:

Industrialized agriculture, driven by the demand for cheap and abundant food, has drastically altered our landscapes and farming methods. Practices like over-tilling and mono-crop planting have led to erosion and detrimental impacts on soil health.

Half of the planet’s habitable land is used for agriculture, over 75% of which is used for livestock grazing and animal feed production (1). Large-scale commercial agriculture is a major driver of deforestation, accounting for 40% of tropical deforestation between 2000 and 2010 (5). Rapid land use change like this can cause a loss in biodiversity and soil erosion, both of which negatively impact the local ecosystem. Further, the use of synthetic fertilizers has altered nutrient levels of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (NPK) in the soil. This nutrient-rich soil layer, also called humus, is what holds the land together, allowing water to permeate through its layers and allowing for the absorption of nutrients.

To establish a sustainable food system, we need to prioritize practices that nurture the soil. Responsibly sourced, natural products and low-intensity farming methods hold promise in regenerating soil health. Shilajit, a natural resin with a rich nutrient profile has been found to have similarities in physical and chemical characteristics to soil humus (10). While more research is needed, shilajit has some potential for soil improvement and promoting plant growth. The traditional low-impact harvesting techniques align with sustainable agriculture principles.

Water Usage and Agriculture:

Water is a critical component for sustaining life, and unfortunately, our food system puts immense pressure on freshwater resources. Over 70% of our global freshwater consumption goes towards agriculture, especially when raising animals for food (8).

Producing a single pound of beef requires 1,800 gallons to produce, 98% of which goes into the grass that feeds the cattle (7). This water consumption pattern contrasts drastically with plant-based protein sources like beans which consumed 50 gallons of water. Beyond mere consumption and irrigation, water used in agriculture can become polluted by pesticides and fertilizer from runoff, further harming freshwater ecosystems.

This environmental analysis examines the impacts associated with every aspect of agriculture and our food system. Now, let’s examine the damaging aspect of food disposal.

The Problem of Food Waste

The Environmental Impact of Your Diet: Shocking Truth Revealed
Globally, we waste an alarming amount of food – approximately one-third of everything that is produced. An estimated 14% of food is lost after harvest due to supply chain inefficiencies during production and transportation, while a further 17% is wasted at the retail or consumer level (6). Not only does this food waste show the inefficient allocation of our energy and resources, but it also releases potent methane emissions from the decomposition of organic material in a landfill.

By becoming more mindful of our food choices, we have the power to combat this issue. Simple actions like strategic grocery shopping, proper food storage, and getting creative with leftovers can significantly reduce household food waste.

Incorporating shelf-stable, nutrient-rich foods and supplements into your diet can also help reduce food waste while maintaining a well-balanced diet. Responsibly sourced options play a crucial role in supporting sustainable practices, potentially reducing food waste throughout the supply chain.

Building a Sustainable Plate

The Environmental Impact of Your Diet: Shocking Truth Revealed
While the environmental challenges imposed by our global food system are substantial, individual actions can make a collective difference. These are the top three things to keep in mind to reduce the environmental footprint of your diet and support a sustainable future.

1. Establish a Sustainable Diet

The choices you make on your plate have a direct impact on the food system, and prioritizing plant-based options is a powerful step. The IPCC 2024 report highlights the benefits of diets with less reliance on animal products for both land use reduction and lowering greenhouse gas emissions (4). By reducing our reliance on livestock, we can reduce water use, allow ecosystems to recover to their native state, and make significant progress in tackling climate change.

Supporting local producers is another important aspect of sustainable eating. Locally sourced foods often have a smaller environmental footprint due to reduced transportation and packaging requirements. Exploring your local farmers’ market for seasonal and sustainably produced options is the best way to eat locally.

2. Reduce food-waste

Addressing food waste is critical for environmental sustainability. Investing in proper storage containers and embracing creative ways to utilize leftovers prevents perfectly good food from decaying in a landfill.

Incorporating shelf-stable supplements can help reduce food waste while promoting a balanced plant-based diet. Options like shilajit resin with its rich nutrient profile, can be a valuable addition to a well-balanced, plant-focused eating pattern. The sustainable harvesting practices of shilijat are beneficial in promoting rich soil and nutrient uptake.

3. Support ethically sourced food and supplements

Conscious consumerism supports sustainable practices. When choosing foods or supplements, look for accredited certifications like Fair-Trade and Rainforest Alliance Certified, which indicate a commitment to environmental and social responsibility. By favoring these options, you make a statement and encourage wider adoption of sustainable practices in the food industry.


The foods we choose have far-reaching consequences for both our health and the health of the planet. By understanding the environmental impact of our diets, prioritizing plant-based foods, reducing food waste, and supporting responsible producers, we can collectively shift towards a more sustainable food system.

Prioritizing plant-based foods is the most powerful step individuals can take to reduce their environmental footprint. We must reduce our consumption of meats and animal products while promoting sustainable agricultural practices to maintain ecosystem health. Responsibly sourced supplements like shilajit may play a complementary role, especially given their potential to support soil health and sustainable harvesting practices.

Assess your own food choices, what sustainable changes can you make? Let’s choose a diet that nourishes both ourselves and the planet.


  1. Our World in Data: Environmental Impacts of Food Production. (2023)
  2. Our World in Data: Food production is responsible for one-quarter of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. (2019)
  3. Our World in Data: Land Use Diets. (2021)
  4. IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change): Chapter 5: Food Security. (2019)
  5. UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme: The State of the World’s Forests: Forests, Biodiversity and People. (2020)
  6. FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization): Food Loss & Waste (2022)
  7. Foodprint: The Water Footprint of Food. (2024)
  8. UNDP:
  9. Water Footprint Network: What can Consumers do? (2023)
  10. Science Direct: Similarities in the core structure of shilajit and soil humus (1993).