For Day 3 of her 30 day One Meal a Day (OMD) for the Planet challenge Oprah had a sweet potato coconut curry. The recipe, by Oprah’s chef Raymond Weber, is filled with nutritious ingredients and can be found in Oprah’s food diary for these 30 days online.
Sweet potatoes have a low carbon footprint of 0.63 g CO2EQ per gram, and the largest source of protein in this recipe are the chickpeas, which also have a very low carbon footprint of 0.78 g CO2EQ per gram. Chickpeas, like all legumes, are an especially planet-friendly protein source, both because plant proteins in general have a low carbon footprint than animal-based foods, and because legumes in particular don’t need energy-intensive nitrogen fertilizer. For comparison, chicken has a carbon footprint of 5.1 g CO2EQ per gram and estimates of beef’s carbon footprint range from 26 to 40 g CO2EQ per gram.
The 30 day challenge was inspired by Suzy Cameron’s new book The OMD Plan. The idea is that even switching out just one meal a day for a plant-based meal can make a huge difference. Every day we are seeing the impacts of climate change, including wildfires, intense storms, and droughts, and worldwide these impacts are disproportionately affecting people with the least resources, who also played the smallest role in creating the problem. We can all help to mitigate climate change.
Many thanks to UCLA student Rachel Tsao for her work on this recipe’s calculations and graphic.
Carbon footprint data are from: Heller, M.C. and G.A. Keoleian. 2014. Greenhouse gas emission estimates of U.S. dietary choices and food loss. Journal of Industrial Ecology.
Harwatt et al. (2017) Substituting beans for beef as a contribution toward US climate change targets. Climate Change.