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“When we eat we are taking the world into our bodies; that’s a very profound thing. We are changed by what we eat and we in turn change what we are eating. Often, our most profound engagement with the natural world happens on our plates.”
~ Michael Pollan, American author, journalist, activist
When we eat, we demonstrate our values. The foods we choose to eat (and choose to avoid) are an expression of what we care about. So how can we eat in a way that demonstrates our devotion to the planet?
Meatless Monday is a great start!
Meatless Monday is exactly what is sounds like – adopting a plant-based diet one day a week (at least). Why a plant-based diet? Because consuming plant-based foods is good for you and great for the planet.
Did you know that Americans are the second largest consumers of meat globally, second only to Australia? According to the USDA, the average American is projected to have the highest per capita consumption of meat, dairy and eggs in 2018 that has ever been witnessed before.
Why does this matter?
The meat and dairy industries are extremely damaging to the environment. Note, raising livestock for meat, eggs and milk is one of the main contributors to climate change. In fact, the U.N. Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) attributes 14.5% of global emissions to animal agriculture, greater than all transportation combined. Furthermore, animal agriculture is also the leading cause of a host of other major environmental challenges, including biodiversity loss, deforestation and pollution.
Eating meat hasn’t always been this problematic. The trouble arises because of how meat is produced by Big Ag. Livestock is fed foods high in synthetic pesticides and chemicals, which means that the manure cannot be returned to nature as fertilizer. As a result, the massive number of animals within each CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation) generates tons of toxic manure that leaches heavy metals and nitrates into surrounding soil and groundwater, causing land and water pollution.
To meet the ever increasing demand for meat, many factory farms (especially in the U.S.) use large amounts of growth hormones. The combination of rapid growth, unsanitary living conditions, and overcrowding results in high rates of disease, which has lead to the rampant use of antibiotics in animal feed. In fact, 80% of antibiotics sold in the U.S. are for livestock. This has led to a sharp increase in antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which cause more than 2 million illnesses and about 23,000 deaths per year. When we eat meat, we are consuming whatever was placed in, or eaten by the animal.
The good news is, many organizations like Friends of the Earth, media outlets like Food Tank, and local communities, states and entire countries are working hard to tackle this issue and we are already reaping the benefits of diet change. A recent study found that American’s choices to eat less meat have reduced emissions by the equivalent of pollution from 57 million cars — despite population growth of about 9 percent. Even if you’re not ready to give up animal products entirely, simply cutting back on the amount you eat per day or per week can add up in huge ways, helping both people and the planet! Here are some tips and recipes from Amy’s Kitchen to help ease the transition to a plant based diet.
What steps will you take to reduce your food footprint today? Here is the Meat Eaters Guide from Environmental Working Group (EWG) to help get you started.
“Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.” ― Mary Oliver, American Poet The world around you is bigger than you many think. It’s easy to get into a routine and become comfortable with your surroundings, but there are so many places outside of your usual hangouts that can open up a world of adventure. Switch up your routine. Take some time for you. Seek out unexplored places right nearby!
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A plant-based diet is more popular now than it has ever been before. A community of bloggers, Youtubers and content creators dedicated to plant-based eating is rapidly flourishing online. offline and around the world. We are seeing noted chefs, restaurants, businesses and grocery stores meeting consumer demand by creating and providing a plethora of plant-based options. There is no better time than the present to explore this kind of lifestyle!
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In today’s challenges, your eyes have been opened to the benefits of a plant-based diet and how easy it can be to make changes. With this newfound knowledge, this challenge will be a piece of (vegan!) cake, so we would like you to share what you’ve learned with those around you! Think you can’t give up meat for even one day? Watch this video here to see how these average people – a family, a boxing champion, a cattle rancher and a Muslim activist from Afghanistan – found joy and passion in adopting a plant-based diet!
Now that you’re a bit more familiar with the impact of going meatless.
It’s time to go meatless for 24 hours.
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