Climate killers: These foods have the largest carbon footprint

July 26, 2022
min reading time

Which foods have a particularly high CO2e consumption? Which foods should I buy instead? And how can I reduce my ecological footprint? We answer these questions and more in this blog article. 

Food with the highest CO2 consumption

Through our diet, we can significantly influence how large our CO₂e footprint is. Here is an overview.

1. butter

Almost a bit unexpectedly, butter as a vegetarian food ends up in first place among the "climate killer foods".

After all, 24 kg of CO₂e are emitted for one kilogram of butter. This is mainly due to the large amount of milk required for butter production. For one kilogram, that's 18 liters! - Even milk is not particularly climate-friendly in itself. You can read more about this below.

2. beef

Similar to butter and dairy products in general, beef is harmful to the climate due to the way cattle are kept. Per kilogram of beef, 13 kg of CO₂e are emitted. The value is lower than that of butter because beef cattle live significantly shorter lives than dairy cows and can consequently emit less CO₂e.

3. cheese and cream

Cheese and cream as other dairy products are climate-damaging, among other things, because of the cows' diet, as enormous quantities are produced and the utilization by the cow - if you look at the end result - is less efficient than the utilization by humans directly. In addition, the digestion of cows releases methane, a gas that is harmful to the climate. For cheese and cream, the following applies: Low fat is better! Because the higher the fat content of a dairy product, the more milk is needed for its production

4. frozen fries

This may be another surprise for you, because frozen fries are even vegan!

However, the production process is very costly and climate-damaging, as the potatoes have to be dried, deep-fried and frozen, which is energy-intensive. This corresponds to average emissions of 5.7 kg CO₂e per kilogram of frozen fries.

5. chocolate

Unfortunately, chocolate is not exactly environmentally friendly either, especially cow's milk chocolate, because: Milk production is harmful to the climate, as explained earlier.

In addition, chocolate often contains palm oil. F palm oil plantations, rainforest is often cleared, which in turn leads to CO₂ being released. Cocoa cultivation is also often problematic in terms of both working conditions and water consumption.

6. pork and poultry

Both types of meat are not very environmentally friendly due to their consumption of land and feed. In addition, feed production is harmful to the climate, as the feed contributes in part to the clearing of the rainforest as it is grown here. Accordingly, this contributes to the release of CO₂ and is further increased by transport.

Tips for reducing the carbon footprint through nutrition

The first tip is nothing new, but buying seasonally and regionally reduces your ecological footprint tremendously.

Organic does not necessarily mean less CO2

Buying organic does not necessarily mean saving CO2. Often a larger area is needed than for conventional agriculture. However, due to the reduced use of pesticides, organic is often more sustainable!

See meat and dairy products as a pleasure

Clearly, meat and dairy products have a higher CO2 consumption. Whether you want to do without them is up to you, the important thing is to buy them consciously. 


Waste nothing

Food waste in private households is one of the biggest climate killers of all. Even if there is a positive trend (GFK 2018), too much is still thrown away.

Use 2zero app for tips

With the 2zero app, you can see exactly how much CO2 is in your consumption. It's worth taking a closer look at many foods.

Transport of the purchases

Even though the car is convenient, there are many alternatives to going shopping. Cargo bikes are subsidized by the government and can be borrowed. 

Climate protection with 2zero

We offer solutions and services for municipalities with the goal of jointly reducing CO2. Find out more and get in touch with us!

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