Walk This Way! How we can measure your nitrogen footprint!

Here’s a little more about the background for The Meat Pledge Experiment. In the same way as the ‘carbon footprint’ shows how much carbon is emitted from human activities, there is a footprint indicator for nitrogen (also called N). Of course America is the world’s Bigfoot, at 37 kg N emissions per person for all forms of energy and food use! But when you look just at production and consumption of food alone, China and Japan pull ahead at over 30 kg N per person per year. America is about 27kg, and Ireland is part of the average 23 kg of the more-or-less United Kingdom. You can see more about it on http://www.n-print.org/CountryNFootprints
Turns out that how much meat we eat directly affects the balance of nitrogen compounds in our environment. Everything is connected, as the swamis say. We’re working on how to make a Danish standard of nitrogen use, and when we do, we can show you some comparisons on our Corkonians vs Horsonites segment.
But back to our intrepid participants in the Meat Pledge Experiment; looking today at Jacob and Anne. Jacob has a background as a chef and is a cheerful familyman, with a young son and a new- born baby girl. He is also a bit nerdy, and has decided to define his pledge by reducing the amount of his N use! After a few weeks of recording his usual diet, Jacob writes:
I found out that I have a relative high N footprint (average of 30 kg), I know that I can eat a lot of food but I didn’t realize that I eat that much meat and wheat and other grains. Noting down my food habits has created a real will to reduce my N-footprint. My personal pledge will from now on be to reduce my average N print to 25 kg, by eating less meat.
On the other hand, Anne writes that noting her regular diet for a couple of weeks has shown that she eats less meat than she thought. A gardener by trade, Anne is in her 40’s and lives quietly with her partner in a little flat in the city.
Going through this experiment will stimulate me to be more aware of my habits; what I eat and why. I know that I’m only supposed to choose one pledge rule, but I’d like to try to change a couple of habits. For many years, I haven’t eaten very much meat for ethical and environmental reasons. My pledge will be to eat nothing but organic meat.
Because she is such a polite person, Anne has also had concerns about the impoliteness of refusing to eat what is offered:
Following this experiment will support me when eating with other people. When I’m together with relatives, it will help to say that I’m abstaining because of the pledge; then it will be legitimate rather than fanatic, and seem less rude.
Our participants have decided what they will pledge for the 4-week period. Next time, let’s see how their first day is!

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