Imagine trying to hit the waves, but you show up to a closed beach due to water contamination. Or maybe you’ve gained the courage to go cliff-diving and the perfect spot is restricted due to erosion. What if you hit the ski slopes one day, only to find a mountain with no snow? All your wildest dreams just washed away, but could you have prevented it? The answer may be in your diet.
While you want to enjoy outdoor adventures, some of your favorite spots may not be around much longer. When it comes to preserving nature, it’s up to everyone to make a conscious choice on a local and global scale to protect these precious areas.
There are many ways you can make a difference, including: recycling, not running water excessively, carpooling, using public transit or biking around town, volunteering for beach or neighborhood clean-ups, buying local foods, shopping with reusable bags and even donating to environmental non-profits, like 1to1 Movement.
But the easiest, most consistent way to make an impact is by consuming more plant-based foods. And you can do this on a daily basis.
Plant-based diets don’t downplay the other ways you can do your part to help Mother Earth. But the fact is, 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
Choosing a plant-based diet can help reduce your carbon footprint by:
Reducing food resources: Plant-based diets require less land and resources to produce. So if more land could be used for growing plants for people to eat, this could greatly reduce the overall global and local carbon footprint.
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
Creating cleaner water: Runoff from land application of animal manure pollutes ground water, which is a resource at least 53% of the population depends on for drinking.2 In addition to conserving water, more plant-based diets would lead to fewer animal farms, which would lead to less water pollution over time.
Reducing CO2 emissions: You can actually do more for the planet by eating plants than you can by driving a hybrid vehicle. Animal agriculture contributes more CO2 emissions than all forms of transportation combined, including but not limited to, cars, motorcycles, trains, and airplanes.5
Make the switch to a plant-based diet by:
- Choosing plant-based or vegan snacks for your lunch box
- Ordering salads or a variety of veggie side dishes when eating at restaurants
- Checking your supplements and sports nutrition for vegan ingredients
- Shopping farmers’ markets for fresh, local produce
Making the switch to a plant-based diet is easy, economical and the most efficient way to contribute. Are there other ways you help the planet during Earth Month? Tell us in the comments below!
“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
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
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
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
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