How Your Food Can Protect the Planet

By Paige Snyder, categorized in Stylish Science

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Imagine going to visit your favourite coastal town, but it is no longer there; or wanting to go skiing over Christmas but you can’t because there’s no snow.

There is no better way to spend time with your friends and family than having adventures, getting outside and exploring the countryside around you or even going for a jog down by the river to take in the view. Unfortunately, these picturesque locations in the UK and around the world may not be around much longer if we don’t act now. When it comes to preserving nature, it is up to us to make conscious choices on a local and global scale to protect these areas.

There are lots of ways to do this, like recycling, not running water excessively, using public transport or cycling to work, buying local foods from the Saturday market and remembering your bag for life when you do your weekly shop (I always have one in my bag ready just in case).

But the easiest and most consistent way to make an impact daily is by consuming more plant-based foods.

Not to downplay the other ways you can do your part to help the planet, but the fact is that animal agriculture is one of the largest contributors to environmental problems, desertification, overuse of freshwater, inefficient use of energy, diverting food for use as feed and emission of greenhouse gases. 1

A plant-based diet can help reduce your carbon footprint by:

  • Reducing Food Resources: Plant-based diets require less land and resources to produce. If we used that land for growing plants for human consumption we’d have a great impact on reducing the global and local carbon footprint.

  • Cleaner Water: Runoff from land application of animal manure pollute ground water, a resource which we depend on for drinking. 2

  • Saving Water: The production of animal protein requires significantly more water than the production of plant protein. 3 Less water is necessary for plant agriculture, creating more food resources and conserving water for human consumption. The United Nations points out that “the livestock business is among the most damaging sectors to the earth’s increasingly scarce water resources.” 4

  • Reducing CO2 emissions: You can do more for the planet by eating plants than driving a hybrid vehicle. Animal agriculture contributes more CO2 emissions than all forms of transportation combined, including but not limited to, cars, motorbikes, trains, and planes. 5

The most effective, cheapest and easiest action you can take in protecting the planet for years to come is consuming more plant-based foods. It is as easy as ordering something different on the menu when you go out for dinner!

REFERENCES:

1. "Growing Greenhouse Gas Emissions Due to Meat Production." Environmental Development 5 (2013): 156-63. Retrieved from: http://www.unep.org/pdf/UNEP-GEAS_OCT_2012.pdf

2. Greger, M, Koneswaran G.  (2010). The Public Health Impacts of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations on Local Communities."Family & Community Health. 11-20. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/ehs/Docs/Understanding_CAFOs_NALBOH.pdf

3. Pimentel, D, et al. (2004). Water Resources: Agricultural and Environmental Issues. BioScience: 909. Retrieved from: http://bioscience.oxfordjournals.org/content/54/10/909.full#ref-39

4. United Nations. (2006). Rearing Cattle Produces More Greenhouse Gases than Driving Cars, UN Report Warns. 29 Nov. 2006. Retrieved from: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?newsID=20772#.VtTVJfkrLIU

5. United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. (2006). Livestock’s long shadow: environmental issues and options. Accessed on 4/5/16 from: ftp://ftp.fao.org/docrep/fao/010/A0701E/A0701E00.pdf