Environmental Benefits of Plant-Based Eating
Eating more plant-based meals is one of the best (and tastiest) ways to fight climate change. Swapping out red meat and dairy one day a week for plant-based foods reduces climate change causing emissions more than eating locally every day.
Globally we are seeing the risks of climate change become reality daily. An overwhelming majority of the scientific community agrees that greenhouse gas emissions have increased to dangerous levels, threatening our planet and normal way of life. We see examples of climate change every day: rising sea levels, hotter temperatures, species extinction, and an increase in extreme weather conditions and events. With all these natural disasters unfolding in front of us, it’s hard to deny that the future is at risk.
Sources of harmful greenhouse gas emissions vary, but a major contributor is the livestock industry, which alone makes up an estimated 14.5% of all global greenhouse gas emissions from human activities—more than the entire transportation sector combined. Having a diet that revolves around animal products isn’t sustainable, and as the global population continues to grow, the demand for meat, and its detrimental impact on the planet, will only increase. Research shows that meat and dairy consumptions are significant contributors to climate change and environmental resource issues, such as species decline, water scarcity, and soil health.
Climate change can seem overwhelming, but there are easy ways to make a difference with your daily food choices. What we eat has both a short-term and long-term effect on the environment, so when it comes to combating climate change, an easy way to make a difference is with your food choices. Eating more sustainable foods, plant-based meals, and getting friends, family, followers, and colleagues involved in eating plant-based meals and fun programs like Meatless Mondays can help combat critical environmental concerns from agriculture production to help fight climate change. Eating more sustainable foods and plant-based ingredients is one way to make an impact, but composting, reducing food waste, and supporting sustainable/vegetarian-forward restaurants can also indirectly lower your own carbon footprint.
In honor of our environment, we’ve compiled a list of easy actions that you can take to make a positive impact on the environment.
Adopt Meatless Monday
Plant-based nutrition contributes to healthy, sustainable food practices. Shifting to a more plant-based diet has the potential to help decrease agricultural land use by as much as 80 percent. Incorporating Meatless Monday into your diet is easy, and it can be a fun way to experiment with new ingredients, cuisines, and cooking techniques.
Eat More Plant-Based Meals
By eating more plant-based meals, you are taking a step in the direction of reducing the global demand for meat.
Reduce Food Waste
The United States wastes between 31 to 40% of its post-harvest food supply (food that’s already been grown, harvested, transported, and sold), and much of this is done at the consumer level. Reducing food waste is an important way to preserve finite natural resources and limit greenhouse gas emissions. There are a few ways you can reduce food waste in the kitchen,
such as making a weekly meal plan, freezing fruits and vegetables before they go bad, and buying shelf-stable items like beans, frozen produce, and dried grains.
When you don’t compost your food waste, it’s almost always sent to the landfill with the other garbage. The problem is that much of this organic material rots when it isn’t disposed of properly, releasing methane and carbon dioxide in the process. These greenhouse gasses trap heat and make the planet warmer. Composting has other benefits as well: it helps control erosion, improves soil health, and contributes to revitalizing local water sources. Th
ere are several DIY composting projects you can do to make composting at home easier.
Eat Sustainable Foods
Different foods require different quantities of resources to produce. And some foods are more sustainable than others. In 2019, the World Wildlife Foundation created a list of its top 50 foods for a sustainable future. Foods like mushrooms, beans, cereals, grains, algae, and kale are all nutrient-dense and environmentally friendly, so try adding more of them into your weekly meal plan.
Support Restaurants with Sustainability Initiatives
Restaurants that commit to seasonal ingredients, plant-based options, and local produce should be rewarded for their efforts. Try to frequent these restaurants when possible and show your appreciation to the staff and management.
Fight Climate Change with Your Fork. What Can I Eat Instead of Meat?
You can enjoy most of your favorite foods, made plant-based. There are plenty of healthy and delicious plant-based options that can easily provide enough protein.