“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 and avoid are an expression of what matters to us. So how can we eat in a way that respects the planet? A plant-based diet is a great way to live in harmony with people, all species and the environment.
Animal agriculture is one of the main contributors to environmental degradation and climate impact. Facts tell a powerful story about plant-based and vegetarian diets!
Greenhouse gas emissions. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) attributes 14.5% of global emissions to animal agriculture, greater than all transportation emissions combined. Animal agriculture releases massive amounts of carbon and 44% of global methane production.
Biodiversity Loss. We are trading rich biodiversity for agricultural land to grow feed crops and provide land for grazing for animals. Nearly ⅓ of biodiversity loss and 75% of deforestation in the Amazon rainforest is linked to animal agriculture.
Ocean destruction. Through pesticide, fertilizer and waste runoff, livestock has indirectly caused more than 500 nitrogen flooded dead zones in the ocean. In addition, the exploitative practices of the seafood industry could well lead to fishless oceans by 2048.
Inefficient Land Use. Animal agriculture perpetuates the global hunger crisis, because it is a highly inefficient use of resources and produces far less food than plant-based agriculture. One pound of beef requires 1,800 to 2,500 gallons of water and 7 pounds of feed, whereas a comparable amount of wheat takes only 25 gallons of water to produce.
Pollution. As animal agriculture was industrialized on a large scale, factory farms fundamentally altered the way animals are raised and turned into food. Livestock food is high in synthetic pesticides and chemicals, so manure cannot be returned to nature as fertilizer. As a result, animals within each Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) generate tons of toxic manure that leach heavy metals and nitrates into soil and groundwater, polluting land and water.
Disease. Factory farms, especially in the United States, use large amounts of growth hormones. The combination of rapid growth, unsanitary living conditions and overcrowding results in high rates of disease, which has led to rampant use of antibiotics in animal feed, sharply increasing antibiotic-resistant bacteria and causing over 2 million illnesses and about 23,000 deaths per year.
The good news is that benefits of plant-based diets are becoming more widely known and gaining traction, as well as accessibility!
Scientific research highlighted in The China Study shows that a plant-based diet can reduce risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, various types of cancer and other major illnesses. Many people also report bigger fitness payoffs, more energy, reduced inflammation and better health outcomes after making the switch.
California legislators are currently debating a bill that would fund a school lunch program with plant-based food for millions of children. Plant-based alternatives to animal products are exploding in popularity and plant-based restaurants are now found in nearly every city with more popping up every day.
A great, simple way to introduce more plant-based food into your diet is through Meatless Monday. Eating plant-based only ONE day a week can save 1,150 gallons of water, 32 square feet of forest and 21 pounds of carbon dioxide!
There are many misconceptions about eating a plant-based diet. It is often wrongly assumed that it means lacking variety or nutrition in your diet. But plants are more interesting and nutritionally dense than many other foods.
Look at these common vegan myths. Select two that you find interesting and share with us. Is there a compelling reason that you found through research to add more plants to your diet? (150 words)
Upload a PDF Document with your responses. Please include your name (or team name), username, email address, and school.
Plant-based eating is rapidly growing in popularity, and for good reason! 31% of Americans now practice meat-free days. The community of foodies, chefs, bloggers, Instagrammers, YouTubers and content creators dedicated to plant-based living is flourishing online and around the world. Noted chefs, restaurants, businesses and grocery stores are rising to meet consumer demand by creating and providing a plethora of plant-based options. There is no better time than the present to explore fantastic plant-based foods!
Upload a PDF document with your responses and screenshot of your social media post. Please include your name (or team name), username, email address, and school.
Reducing consumption of animal products for even one day can have a substantial positive impact, both on your health and the environment. This challenge will show you how easy it is to start reducing your impact today!
It’s Meatless Monday. That means NO MEAT TODAY! Invite a friend or family member to join you for Meatless Monday. Make sure at least one of you typically consumes meat. Consider replacing animal products with fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes and plant proteins. A plant-based diet offers a great opportunity for creativity. Struggling with ideas? For super simple and inexpensive recipes, check out these popular plant-based YouTubers here, here, and here or search a relevant hashtag on Instagram: #vegan, #plantbased, #plantbaseddiet and more.
Record everything you and your friend or family member eats for the day — and have both of you answer the following questions:
Upload a PDF document with your responses. Please include your name (or team name), username, email address, and school.
5 submissions will be randomly selected to receive:
Each time you submit a challenge, you get an entry. Complete Green, Greener, and Greenest to triple your chances!
Extended deadlines and extra credits do not apply.