There is no denying that we need to eat every day. And we can make a great difference by simply tweaking our eating habits, which could positively impact our health and more importantly the Earth.
All we need to do is one simple switch in the service of our health and the planet – cutting out meat and animal proteins.
Referring to a 2018 study in the journal Science, Founder and CEO of GreenChoice, Galen Karlan-Mason, said, “A diet without meat products can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 49 percent and water-scarcity weighted water footprint by 19 percent.”
GreenChoice is a grocery-shopping app that helps consumers make informed choices about sustainability and nutrition.
Citing several factors that make industrial agriculture the most environmentally taxing process in global food production, Karlan-Mason said, “We monocrop corn and soy and process it into feed, ship the feed to the cattle, provide land and water, and repeat for the life of the cattle, all while the cattle release methane gas daily.”
However, plant-based meats are not a one-to-one replacement for sausages and burgers.
“If we look at soy production, it’s second to beef in environmental damage — we’re replacing first-degree murder with second-degree murder,” according to Douglas Murray of Montclair State University in New Jersey.
Eating soy burgers every day can still be a health risk because of its high saturated fat content and higher levels of sodium. Therefore, it is important to focus on unprocessed ingredients.
Plant-based protein is the obvious swap-in for animal-based protein. Plus, most vegetables, according to the 2018 Science study, are known to have less carbon footprint than the least impactful animal proteins like fish, eggs, or dairy.
Following a plant-based diet lowers the risk of certain types of cancer and heart disease, according to multiple studies. In addition, incorporating plant-based proteins is now much easier than ever.
Keeping vegan protein foods like beans and quinoa handy helps you cook from your pantry more often, which enables you to skip frequent trips to your store, especially during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
As far as eggs are concerned, Murray said, “They pack a lot of protein punch, and chicken and egg production is much less environmentally damaging” than beef production.
Karlan-Mason recommended having oat, soy, or hazelnut milk if you would like to switch to non-dairy milk.
The foods that you eat may also raise or lower your risk of neurological conditions, such as dementia.
Murray explained that if all of this sounds overwhelming or too complicated to make a difference, remember. “What consumers can do is drive the demand.” Citing the examples of organic certification and the removal of synthetic growth hormones from milk, he said, “If enough consumers try meatless Monday, it would have a real significant impact.”