A Healthier, More Environmentally-Friendly and Sustainable You!
Now that you have a plan to help you stick to your New Year’s Resolution, why not pick one that has ethical, environmental, economic and physical benefits? I’m talking about reducing (or even cutting out) meat-eating from your diet .
Environmentally speaking, livestock accounts for over 18% more pollution than all forms of transportation combined (http://www.cowspiracy.com/facts/)! In my article about food waste in the U.S. (find link to article here), I mentioned that much of the food we produce in this country is wasted or doesn’t even directly reach consumers. A large part of this is because almost 70% of the grain we produce goes to feeding cattle, which is much less energetically efficient than producing it for direct human consumption (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/mar/21/eat-less-meat-vegetarianism-dangerous-global-warming). It takes twenty times more fossil fuel use to grow and supply one pound of meat compared to one pound of vegetables. In terms of water usage, it takes 300 times more water to produce one pound of beef than it takes to produce one pound of potatoes. A vegan can keep their shower running all year long and still not surpass the amount of water a meat eater consume.
Even people who eat meat can make a difference, though—people who cut out just one hamburger per week results in the same positive environmental benefits as taking your car off the road for 320 miles that week!
Vegetarians, or even flexitarians (people who forego eating meat 3-5 days a week) eat meat very occasionally), benefit from generally lower rates of obesity, overweight, heart disease, and even certain kinds of cancer, compared to their meat-eating counterparts. In fact, according to Mayo Clinic, people who follow a vegetarian diet generally consume fewer calories and less fat, weigh less, have lower cholesterol levels, and live longer (on average eight years longer than the general population, which is similar to the gap between smokers and nonsmokers) than do non-vegetarians
Image Credit: @criene
There’s a misconception about how much protein you need to consume for a healthy, balanced diet, and definitely a misplaced assumption that it must come from animal sources. Though a certain percent of our calories should come from protein, not all of this protein needs to be animal protein. In fact, one can consume complete proteins (containing all 9 essential amino acids) from eating combinations of plants and legumes. Black beans eaten with rice, or whole grain bread with peanut butter, for example, are complete proteins.
Plus, many people feel significantly better after cutting meat out of their diet, and many also experience the unexpected benefit of adding extra nutrient-dense fruits and veggies to their diet, too.
If the environmental and health reasons don’t sway you enough, maybe the ethical ones will. Most animal products Americans consume come from animals raised in CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) that enable companies to produce huge quantities of meat in confined spaces. In order to quickly fatten cows up, they are fed corn, which is filling and cheap. The way feedlot animals are treated is cruel and violent, and the conditions in which they’re kept are terrible. Not to mention, they’re fed food that isn’t natural to them and that’s been sprayed with pesticides, and they’re ingected with hormones to keep them from dying of sickness.
Eating a mostly plant-based diet is easier on your pocketbook than meat-based ones. Additionally, non-meat eaters generally have significantly lower medical costs throughout their lifetimes. Doctor Neal Barnard estimated that meat consumption costs the United States roughly $30–60 billion a year in medical costs. This calculation was made on the basis of the estimated contribution that eating meat makes to the diseases discussed above, plus other chronic diseases common in affluent countries and foodborne illnesses linked to meat consumption.
Have we convinced you yet? Change can be scary and overwhelming, but the key, like with any other important resolution, is to take it step by step, surround yourself with a support system who can help you stick with it, and constantly remind yourself of the desired outcome. Let us be your support system! All of our meals are vegan by design, so rest assured that you’ll be satisfied with meals that are convenient, healthy, wholesome, ande delicious!
So if you want to knock several resolutions off your list at once (saving money, consuming a healthier diet, helping the planet), try reducing your meat consumption—every little bit helps!
Main Image Credit: @threejseal