Eating for the Planet

Want to know how you can help the climate? Check out what’s on your plate. Your shopping cart and eating habits can be a powerful tool to combat climate change. By replacing just half of your daily meat diet with a plant-based one, you will reduce your water/carbon footprint by up to 30 percent. Going vegetarian or vegan cuts that same foot-print by 50 percentveggie-lunch

screen-shot-2019-04-19-at-6-08-39-pmIf you consider vegetarianism or veganism impossible, think “OMD” – one (plant-based) meal a day as a meaningful start. And it’s really not much of an adjustment at all. Make a list of your favorite meatless and dairy-free items and find a satisfying time to incorporate them into one meal. Wholegrain bowls, smoothies made with alternative milks, avocado toast, bean or potato dishes, and salads are delicious and easy options. By eating just one vegan meal a day, you will save the equivalent of driving coast to coast and back and 194,667 gallons of water per year.

brown-and-white-cow-in-pasture-picjumbo-comBig Agriculture has a tremendous impact on our increasingly precious resources – air and water. Animal proteins in particular. Did you know that a single cheeseburger requires 1800 gal. of water to produce – with bun and condiments included – and results in 6.8 lbs. of carbon emissions? With those stats, no burger should cost $1.99.

“If the world were to eat as much meat as the United States does, we’d need at least four more planets.” – Raj Patel, author of Stuffed and Starved, LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin.

screen-shot-2019-03-05-at-8-52-35-pmThe problem with meat and dairy is that animal agriculture is the number two driver of climate change. 80 to 90 percent of the planet’s consumable water is dedicated to conventional agriculture and 75 percent of arable land is used to grow feed for livestock consumption. In fact, shifting the world toward eating more plant-based foods could supply 30% more food to the planet’s growing population.

Worldwide deforestation is a direct result of our demand for meat –  decimating habitats and biodiversity and destroying the lungs of our planet. But an equally devastating by product of animal agriculture is the waste, which is the second the largest contributor of methane release into our atmosphere behind the fossil fuel industry.

Farm waste water runoff

Farm waste water runoff

Much of this waste ends up in our waterways creating ever growing “dead zones” in the oceans – mostly caused by nitrous oxide. Dead zones cannot support marine or plant life because of extreme acidification. Remember, the ocean is our largest carbon sink, but with the combination of rising water temperatures and declining plant life the ocean cannot absorb carbon at past levels. Combine agricultural waste-water pollution with deforestation – and we are in a greenhouse gas spiral. Methane, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide are the main culprits of our chronic state of climate emergency.

To compound the animal waste problem, Americans waste one pound of food per person/per day on average. For the US population, that works out to be 118,880,500,000 pounds per year! Beyond the land and water cost of growing that wasted food, rotting food dumped into landfills generates methane – which is 28 times more heat producing in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.

bowl-full-of-healthy-fruitsBy simply being mindful of your consumption of large animal proteins (which include dairy), you can seriously reduce your greenhouse gas footprint. The bright side is that the most nutritious foods for us are also the most sustainable for the planet – fruits and vegetables of all varieties. Incorporating one vegan option a day and making a three to five day plan for that roast chicken and fresh fruits and vegetables is helpful not only for your wallet, but for the planet. 

 

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About the Author

Here at Jenny Green Jeans, by sharing success stories and easy-to- implement tips, I hope to inspire and empower you to continue to make sustainable choices in your life and watch how far the impact goes. Contact me with any questions or suggestions you may have.

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