The Top Three Reasons Why You Should Switch to a Plant Based Diet

Sustainability is such an important concept that we need to be incorporating in all aspects of our lives.  Recycling, carpooling, and turning the lights off when you’re not in the room are all great starts, but we need to take it a step further. Taking a look at what we eat, where it comes from, and its impact on the environment can make a huge difference in our carbon footprint and the overall health of the planet. Plant-based diets are often intimidating, but they can come in many varieties that still meet your family’s needs, are great for your health, and great for the environment. These are the three real reasons why we should all make the switch to more plant-based diets.

Plant based diets come in many different varieties. Plant based and vegan are often used interchangeably, but they don’t mean the same thing. While being vegan could be the end goal as the most sustainable version of the plant based diet, it is not always the most realistic when starting out. Plant based diets can come in many forms that start by cutting out as many animal products as you can without sacrificing everything you love all at once. Plant based diets can range from vegetarian, pescatarian (still eating fish), only cutting out dairy, or only cutting out eggs. Any of these changes is a great first step into transitioning to a plant based diet. However, the beef industry is a huge contributor to the rapid climate change crisis and the emission of greenhouse gasses. If there is any one thing that would make the biggest impact immediately it would be cutting out all beef products from your diet.

Animal agriculture is one of the largest man-made polluters. Animal agriculture has exploded in this country at such a massive scale that it is hurting our environment in an alarming way. Animal agriculture is one of the leading causes of climate change, deforestation, water and air pollution. The biggest way animal agriculture is contributing to climate change is through emissions of greenhouse gasses. The production of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide is so large that it accounts of 18% of greenhouse gasses, which is more than all global transportation combined. This breaks down to 9% of total carbon dioxide emission, 37% of total methane emissions, and 65% of total nitrous oxide emissions – globally. Changing your diet and lifestyle can be intimidating, but the impact it can make is great for our planet. By switching to a plant-based diet we can cut the emissions coming from animal agriculture almost in half, and reduce land use, and water and air pollution coming from this industry.

Eating more fruits and veggies can have amazing health impacts.  Increasing your intake of fruits and veggies can help reduce your risks of cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and help increase blood flow that can help aid in healing preexisting health issues. Eating more plant based can also aid in losing weight because you are eating foods with fewer calories that are packed with nutrients. While eating plant based you may be tempted with meat and cheese alternatives, which can help you transition your diet, but sticking to unprocessed fruits, veggies, grains, nuts and legumes will provide your nutrition needs without any unnecessary fillers.

Figure 3; Plant based pyramid

How the food pyramid would be modified to fit a plant based diet. Source: http://www.matthewkenneycuisine.com/plantfood-pyramid-

There are plenty of other ethical and health reasons why we should all be eating more plant based. The three reasons discussed above are great starting points to help kick start a new lifestyle that can help the environment and improve your health. Plant based diets can help lower the high rates of cancer and obesity we have in this world, and reduce the damage that has already been done to our planet because of climate change.

-Posted by Jade

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