How Does Your Festive Food Increase Your Carbon Footprint?

How Does Your Festive Food Increase Your Carbon Footprint?
Prime Roots

by Prime Roots
December 19, 2020 5 min read

Baby, it’s cold outside! Or is it?
  • Maybe it’s not as cold as it should be this time of year. Maybe you live in an area where it’s not supposed to get cold in winter.
  • But perhaps you do. And those snowy winters you remember fondly from childhood have turned into 75 degree temps on the regular.
  • Climate change is a hot topic in the world these days. And it should be. Our planet is suffering from the abuse humans have inflicted upon it for hundreds of years. And while many folks across the globe are increasingly changing their holiday focus to more sustainable gift giving practices, we simply can’t forget about how unsustainable our festive foods are.
  • Which begs the question, exactly how do our holiday foods negatively impact the earth?
  • Let’s take a look at some classic holiday foods, why we eat them, how they hurt humans and planet, and how we can change that!

The Elephant at the Holiday Table

Ever heard of the phrase the “elephant in the room”?  It’s generally some obvious problem that a group of people know about but are refusing to acknowledge. Because burying our heads in the sand is somehow much less awkward than confronting real issues.
  • Well, the elephant at the holiday table guessed it. Meat.
  • Contrary to popular belief, every traditional meaty holiday table centerpiece isn’t created equal. (But none of them are as healthy for you as whole food plant-based meats. We’re just sayin’.)



It may be slightly healthier for you than other seasonally eaten meats, but turkey still poses problems for the planet.
  • Turkey, the traditional holiday meat that graces almost everyone’s table at Thanksgiving and Christmas, is not a sustainable food source. Given the high demand for turkey during the holiday season, many suppliers import frozen turkeys from various locations nationwide. This practice increases the carbon footprint of turkey and puts it in the top five meats that are terrible for the environment.
  • Plus, approximately 46 million turkeys are slaughtered each year for Thanksgiving just so folks can get their food coma on. Poor turkeys!


Does a big, fat, juicy ham grace your holiday table each year?
  • In addition to high amounts of carbon and methane emissions, pig farms produce toxic run-off that affects our land and waterways. Terrible manure management also increases the negative impact pork production has on the planet.
  • Pork production lands itself in the top 4 on the list of meats that have the biggest carbon footprint.
  • So if you’re into choosing the right meat for your festivities, just know that ham is one of the worst. It’s also incredibly unhealthy.


Before turkey became a big thing, beef was traditionally at the center of almost every holiday table. Unfortunately, beef production creates the highest amount of carbon and methane emissions besides lamb.
  • What can we say? Cows are gassy. And they release even more methane into our atmosphere than they do CO2! That means with every hamburger you eat, you’re contributing to climate change. Remember those snowy winters we talked about? Beef consumption is part of the problem.
  • By the way, did you know that methane emissions are about twenty times more potent than CO2? Making them even worse for the environment than CO2 is.
  • Not to mention, it takes 1,846 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef.  That number includes the water the cow drinks and the water used in growing food for it to eat. Think about that before you choose to throw down on your holiday roast this season.

Other environmentally unfriendly holiday foods

Obviously, you don’t just eat a big ole plate of meat for Christmas dinner. Your holiday meals are a cornucopia of delicious foods.
  • Whether you choose a more environmentally friendly meat dish or decide to go meatless this season, here’s a list of other common festive foods that increase your carbon footprint:
    1. Christmas pudding - This is usually imported from other countries!
    2. Easy peel fruit -These fruits are not grown naturally and organically.
    3. White bread -Because it’s stripped of most of its nutrients, white bread of any kind requires extensive refining, which means more energy and resources are used to make it.
    4. Sugar -We hate to break it to you, but processing sugar creates wastewater, emissions, and solid waste that negatively impacts the earth. 
    5. Bananas -This food is super nutritious, but unless you live where they’re grown, massive amounts of them are flown to wherever you buy them.
    • The bottom line?  Any whole food you eat that isn’t grown on your homeland (or close to it) is part of the climate crisis, even if it’s super healthy for you! Also, anything processed requires more energy and resources to make, which means more carbon emissions, waste, and waste water. And chances are, they’re not so great for your health either.

    Turn the Tables: Planet Saving Festive Foods

    We definitely don’t want you to feel bummed out by the food statistics! Here at Prime Roots, we are the epitome of foodies. Especially during the holidays.
    • And because we love food, people, and the planet, we’re all about eating and creating delicious meats and meals that are good for everything and everyone under the sun...literally. So we’ve created a fun list of festive foods that you and your foodie crew can enjoy and still keep your carbon footprint bite-sized.
    • - Vegan mashed potatoes  (You’re welcome to  try ours  or make your own, but potatoes are planet and people friendly.)
    • - Seasonal fruits  like apples, pears, blackberries bought from your local farmer’s market
    • - All the root veggies: Brussels sprouts, carrots, sweet potatoes
    • - Plant-based meat (try our juicy  plant-based turkey that tastes and feels like the real deal!)
    • - Roast chicken is a planet-friendlier alternative to beef, turkey, or ham (if you’re not into plant-based meats….yet).
    • From horderves to the meaty table centerpiece, every seasonal food can be made more environmentally friendly or replaced with something that is! So if you’re concerned about your environmental impact this holiday, remember that every little bit helps. Whether you switch all your festive foods to plant-based alternatives or just one, you’re making a difference!
    • Have a planet-friendly holiday recipe you want to share? We’d love to hear about it! You can submit your recipe in the form below or shoot us an email at! We absolutely adore our community of mission-minded foodies, and we value your thoughts and opinions. You are what makes us who we are today!

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