Any reputable resource will tell you that the way we are eating is destroying the planet…and us! At the same time, the solution is just as astounding because of its simplicity: Eating more plant-based meals as part of our diet could greatly reduce the environmental and health problems we are experiencing.
There are a number of reasons why we might consider changes in our habits. We have a planet that is changing, the oceans are rising, forests and wildlife disappearing, and food availability continues to be a problem worldwide.
Although the impact is global, it is important to see the personal and local impact. Thus the best thing we can do to create a healthier environment begins at home.
Here are a some things happening right now and will continue if we don’t make a change:
Increased Energy Use and Water Consumption
- The amount of water estimated to produce only one pound of beef is between 1000 and 1,500 gallons of water. Although the beef industry claims a much lower amount of water used per pound, agricultural water usage has the highest foot print compared to other uses. See how much water some of your favorite foods take to produce. Consider also that many areas of the country are experiencing multi-year droughts.
- Cattle raising to meet beef and dairy demands is considered a big threat to deforestation and ozone damage.
- In our search for perfect produce, we let a lot of food go to waste. Think of the last trip to the supermarket. Some amount of food you brought home will be thrown out.
- The store will also throw out food that goes bad because consumers don’t want it.
- Many chronic diseases are connected to the way we eat. What we eat contributes to conditions like obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. They account for a large majority of deaths in the US.
- There are about 76 million cases of foodborne illnesses every year.
- Antibiotics are used at an alarming rate in livestock which contributes to antibiotic resistance bacteria in humans.
How do we make a difference?
Here are a two things to consider to make an individual difference:
Eat locally sourced foods
- Begin asking, where does my food come from? Does it travel far or near? The distance your food travels affects the quality of your food if it has traveled great distances. It also affects the amount of pollution it has created and the energy it has consumed reaching your plate.
- Whenever possible opt for food that has been grown locally. In addition to generating a smaller amount of pollution, you get to support your local economy.
Eat less beef
- The goals is not to turn a vegan, however making some changes to the way we eat can help us and the planet.
- Consider ways to decrease your meat and dairy consumption like having one meal a day or one day a week that is completely meatless.
- In many countries around the world plant protein is king, with little beef and animal protein consumed only rarely or on special occasions. This might work for us too.
- It takes about 30 days to adopt a new habit. You can try almost anything for 30 days and the change won’t seem insurmountable.