Plant-Based Eating and the Environment
Plant-based diets are all the buzz these days, and for good reason! Eating plant-based foods can significantly improve health by reducing the risk of numerous chronic diseases. But another compelling reason many people transition to eating more plant-based foods is to support and protect the environment.
What is Plant Based?
Plant-based eating consists primarily of foods derived from plants, including fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and whole grains. It differs from veganism or vegetarianism because it allows for animal-based proteins sometimes; just not as the focus of meals. And with animal agriculture’s devastating contribution to global warming, reducing your meat and dairy consumption, even by just a little, can significantly impact our ecosystems positively.
If you’re looking for ways to help the environment, eating more plant-based meals is the way to do it. Here’s why.
How Plant-Based Foods Support the Environment
Saves Water: Did you know that the meat and dairy industries use one-third of the earth’s fresh water? To put this into perspective, it takes about 1,000 gallons of water to produce just one carton of milk. It also requires about 100 times more water to produce a pound of animal protein than a pound of grain protein. The amount of valuable water used to create these products is jarring and may make someone think twice before choosing meat over plant-based options.
Protects Habitats: Not only are forests home to millions of diverse species, but they also help make our air breathable and protect against climate change. The meat industry routinely destroys forests to make more space for cattle grazing and livestock feed. Deforestation, driven mainly by animal agriculture, destroys ecosystems vital to animal and human life. And the effects of deforestation spread far beyond the woods. It kills millions of animals, decreases biodiversity, causes flooding and negatively affects the natural world in myriad ways.
Reduces Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Reducing your carbon footprint is crucial because it alleviates the effects of global climate change. It also improves public health and maintains biodiversity. Eating just one plant-based meal can save the same amount of carbon emissions it takes to drive a car across the country. Even substituting animal-based meat with plant-based meat alternatives can make a significant difference. Meat eaters who crave the taste and textures of animal-based foods can enjoy plant-based meat at a fraction of the environmental cost.
These are merely a handful of ways that incorporating more plant-based meals into your lifestyle can help protect the environment from the devastation of the meat and dairy industry. Changing the way you eat, even slightly, can have a powerful impact on helping our planet.