This project's starting point was a challenge initiated by the Data Viz society to create a data visualization for Earth Day 2020. Being someone who loves cooking (and even more eating!), visualizing our daily food choices' environmental impact was the natural way to go. Most of us eat 3 to 5 times a day. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Tweaking how we eat is one of the most efficient ways to help our planet. And it's accessible! Making a huge difference doesn't necessarily require going full-time vegan. Small changes, repeated regularly, can have a MASSIVE impact when cumulated over one year.
On top of that, I often get asked where I find inspiration for my plant-based meals. So I thought it would be an excellent occasion to go public about my obsession with the recipes from My New Roots and Pick Up Limes and how they never fail at making me want to get lost in my kitchen.
My hope for this visualization is to help you better feel the repercussions these small changes can make and gather a few ideas for food swaps and new recipes to try out. You're welcome!
The skeleton of this visualization is the data collected by Hannah Ritchie and Max Roser and presented in the article Environmental impacts of food production1. By combining food products from this collection, I created meals and listed possible product and recipe swaps.
For each meal and swap, the visualization script recalculates the overall foodprint. This foodprint is a combination of 4 factors: the Land use (m2), the Greenhouse gas emissions (kgCO2eq), the Water use (L), and the Eutrophying emissions (kgPO4eq).
Since certain ingredients can increase some of the factors while reducing others, I came up with a Foodprint index to better assess how the choices made within this visualization increase or decrease our environmental impact. This index represents how significant our choices' impact is, compared to the maximal environmental effect potentially reached within this visualization, on a scale from 0 to 20.
Assessing the foodprint of a product is quite complicated. The evaluation methods and impact factors vary from one study to the next, making them complex to compare. This is why I decided to stick to using the data made available by Hannah Ritchie and Max Roser1.
For the same reasons, I limited the visualization to each recipe's main ingredients and performed a few approximations. For example, I used tofu's data for the ingredient edamame and adjusted the calculation to the amount required for a portion.
Bottom line, the numbers generated by this visualization are here to give a global impression on how our food choices impact our environment. Not to provide precise numbers.
In the future, it would be interesting to add more day-to-day ingredients to the meals and swap choices, like yogurt and butter, for example. Such additions would make this visualization even more applicable to our daily life.