On Friday, September 20th, millions of people around the world walked out of their classes and jobs to participate in the first global climate strike. Protestors marched through the streets demanding more aggressive policies towards climate change. The majority of the participants were young people, whose voices are one of the most powerful tools they have. When it comes to climate change, we have another powerful tool: our stomachs. Surprisingly, our diets have a large impact on the environment. If you’re looking to lower your carbon footprint, here are five foods you should try to consume less of along with five greener alternatives.

1. Lamb

meat, pork, steak, beef, lamb, barbecue, pepper
David Schulman

39.2 kilograms of CO2 emissions per kilogram produced

Lamb tops the list as the least environmentally friendly food. Thankfully, it's not eaten as frequently as some of the other foods mentioned. If you've ever had a lamb burger or gyro, you know how rich and flavorful it can be. Considering its impact on the environment, it's probably best to keep these indulgences to a minimum.

2. Beef

bun, bacon, cheese, beef
Krizza Santucci

27.0 kilograms of CO2 emissions per kilogram produced

The abundance of restaurants offering burgers and steak make beef hard to avoid. Fortunately, many fast food chains (including Burger King and White Castle) are adding Impossible and Beyond Meat to their menus. You can have the same burgers you've always eaten without the negative environmental repercussions.

3. Cheese  

#photography, #cheese, #food, #cheesegrater, #cooking
Yasmeen Aboulhawa

13.5 kilograms of CO2 emissions per kilogram produced

Let's be honest. Cheese is hard to resist. A nice warm bowl of mac and cheese or a freshly baked cheese pizza can hit the spot when you're feeling hungry. However, with the rising popularity of veganism, brands like Daiya Foods and Field Roast now sell plant-based cheese that tastes just like the real thing.

4. Pork

pork, meat, barbecue, bacon, beef, sauce, sausage, chicken
Jocelyn Hsu

12.1 kilograms of CO2 emissions per kilogram produced

When I think of pork, my mind immediately jumps to breakfast foods like bacon, sausage, and ham. Giving up bacon may seem like an impossible task, but there are many other foods that can replace it. All you have to do is give them a chance.

5. Farmed Salmon

salmon, asparagus, grilled salmon, fish, seafood, smoked salmon, meat, salmon steak
Angela Pizzimenti

11.9 kilograms of CO2 emissions per kilogram produced

"But salmon is good for you!" Yes, true. Salmon is rich in heart-healthy fats and protein. It tastes good and can be prepared many different ways. While it may not produce as great of a carbon footprint as red meat, it certainly does some harm. If you're really craving salmon, wild caught salmon produces fewer CO2 emissions, although it tends to be more expensive.

Looking to make a change? Here are five foods that will make you forget about that double bacon cheeseburger. 

1. Turkey

sandwich, chicken, lettuce, salad
Rachel Weil

10.9 kilograms of CO2 emissions per kilogram produced 

While 10.9kg of CO2 emissions still isn’t ideal, it’s certainly much better compared to lamb and beef. Next time you’re craving a cheeseburger, try a turkey burger instead. Like beef, turkey is high in protein, but it's lower in saturated fat. There’s certainly no harm in giving it a try!

2. Chicken

chicken, chicken wing, Bowl
Casey Tang

6.9 kilograms of CO2 emissions per kilogram produced 

Chicken can also act as a substitute for red meat. If you’re in the mood for a lamb gyro, try a chicken gyro instead. Many Mediterranean restaurants will have this as an option, or if you’re feeling adventurous, try this recipe yourself.

3. Nuts

honey, cereal, nut, sweet, meat, corn
Torey Walsh

2.3 kilograms of CO2 emissions per kilogram produced

When you haven’t eaten in awhile, cheese can certainly keep your appetite at bay. It’s rich, satisfying, and sinfully delicious. Nuts, however, can provide a similar satisfaction. Nowadays, there are many cheese products that are made entirely from nuts. They are almost indistinguishable from the real thing and are equally satisfying. Also, nut butters are packed with healthy unsaturated fats (unlike the saturated fats found in cheese) and give you long lasting energy.

4. Beans

cereal, coffee, black beans, beans, vegetable, azuki bean, pasture, legume, kidney bean
Zoe Malin

2.0 kilograms of CO2 emissions per kilogram produced 

Beans are both delicious and higher in fiber than most meat products. The possibilities are endless: black bean burgers, chili, soup, burritos, hummus, and even dessert.

5. Tofu

broccoli, tofu
Maya Feyzo-Pearlman

2.0 kilograms of CO2 emissions per kilogram produced

Ah, tofu. The food everyone loves to hate. Tofu can be bland and tasteless, but when prepared properly, it's life changing. Most people don’t understand that tofu isn’t meant to be eaten plain. Rather, it’s meant to absorb other spices and flavors. If you’re still skeptical, try some of these recipes.

Now you might be thinking: give up beef? I could never! Well, think again. There are so many great alternatives that can satisfy your cravings. You’ll make both your stomach and the environment happy. Even if you replace one meal a day with these alternatives, you could end up greatly reducing your carbon footprint.