Food Choices – Life Cycle Practices Assessment Results
Thank you for completing the Hazon Seal Food Choices – Life Cycle Practices Assessment!
The suggestions below are based on your responses to the assessment, and are designed to get you thinking about what sort of projects your organization should consider to improve its sustainability impact. You are not required to take on all or even any of the suggestions offered.
Recommendations based on assessment taken July 7, 2022
Serving meat can be bound up with our Jewish culture and our identity as individuals. However, what is clear is that the negative environmental impact of industrial meat and dairy is staggering. So, serving less meat can decrease your organization’s environmental impact, which is also important in Jewish culture. We suggest trying to reduce the percentage of your meals including meat by 10 percentage points (so if you are at 75%, try to bring it down to 65%) to start. The Transition to Plant-Rich Diets toolkit is an excellent resource to help you make this happen.
There are lots of way to raise animals for food and some practices are definitely worse and others better for the environment (and for the animals). Unfortunately, many labeling practices are unregulated and many labels can be meaningless. It is the case that animal products that are pasture-raised, grass-fed, grass-finished, cage free, free range, and/or regenerative are better than those from factory farms. But, it can be hard to know what labels and certifications are truly meaningful. It is for these reasons that Hazon emphasizes the “less” part of going “less and better” with animal products. But there is value in working on “better” and if you are interested in this, we suggest you read the regenerative agriculture section of the Transition to Plant-Rich Diets toolkit to learn more.
Because of the extremely high environmental impact of farming and processing animal products, fully plant-based (or vegan) food is a way to significantly reduce one’s greenhouse gas emissions. That said, many people think it is impossible, at least for them. But it doesn’t have to be all or nothing; an organization doesn’t have to become fully plant-based 100% of the time. By sometimes (even regularly) serving balanced vegan meals, your organization stands not only to reduce its own environmental impact, but also demonstrate the viability of a plant-centric diet to its staff and/or members. This also makes you more inclusive to vegans in your community. We suggest you increase the frequency of vegan meals and see our Transition to Plant Rich Diets toolkit for resources to support you.
Certifications such as “organic” and “fair trade” set a higher standard for the environmental and social impacts of food. We suggest you seek these certifications where they are available. And it doesn’t have to be all or nothing; it may not be feasible to buy everything organic, so pick a few items to start with. Note that many smaller producers, possibly including many of the ones local to you, may meet high standards but cannot afford a third party certification. If you get food from a local producer whom you know to be environmentally responsible without certification, feel free to change your answers to “yes” to the relevant questions in the assessment.