There are so many wonderful ways to protect our planet: recycling, riding a bicycle to work, turning the lights on a bit less at home, bringing reusable bags with you when you shop and the list goes on.
While you may be familiar with the aforementioned actions, there's one action in particular you may want to consider adding to your eco efforts this Earth Day: a planet-conscious diet.
Eating a plant-based diet, and reducing your consumption of animal products, is actually the best thing you can do for the environment, and here's why:
- According to two UN agencies and the principal climate change specialist at a third UN agency, livestock is responsible for at least 51 percent of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.
- The production of animal products also requires a lot of water. For example, it takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce just 1 pound of beef.
- Raising animals for food is responsible for 91 percent of Amazon forest destruction.
- Animal agriculture is also a leading cause of species extinction and ocean dead zones, which are areas in the ocean with such low oxygen amounts, that animal life suffocates and dies there.
While the statistics are disturbing and grave, the incredible news is that eating a plant-conscious lifestyle is not only accessible and easy, it is also delicious. And on top of that – it is the best way to avoid all of today’s major killer diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and even cancer.
If you’re intimidated by a plant-conscious lifestyle, this meal plan is perfect for you. It is packed with incredible recipes that will show you how creative whole-food, plant-based cuisine can be, and how easy it is to create meals that satisfy your every craving.
Before we begin, here are a few easy tips on including more plant foods for Earth Day, and every day:
- Start your day with a delicious breakfast smoothie. Smoothies are just like nature’s candy – they are packed with juicy fruit that will get you excited for breakfast! They are incredibly healthy, supplying gentle fiber and nutrients that are easy to digest, and they only take minutes to make.
- Snack on fruit. Fruits are very quick to grab, yet they are packed with nutrition and flavor. Mangoes, antioxidant-rich berries, peaches – there are so many options to choose from. Antioxidant foods are usually the ones more brightly colored.
- Fall in love with vegetables by learning to make amazing sauces (coconut cream pasta sauce, anyone?). Rich sauces, based on nuts and seeds, are creamy and healthy, and also provide the perfect flavor to accompany your vegetables. Some incredible vegetables to consume daily are greens (which you can easily sneak into your superfood smoothies without noticing, masked by all the fruit), as well as cruciferous veg like broccoli and cauliflower (which we will sneak into our breakfast today!)
- Load up on the beans! Cheap, delicious, and widely available, beans are the common food consumed by the humans living (happily) in the world’s blue zones – the areas where the populations live the longest. Beans are easy to add to your salads and bowls, chilis, stews, dressings, and of course, hummus! So become bean-conscious and try to stuff each meal with as many beans as you can.
- Change your mindset. Many people believe that plant foods are boring and tasteless, yet plant foods can be made into pretty much anything – pizza, pasta and even meatballs. You name it – the recipe exists for it. Search the Vitacost blog (keyword: vegan) a bit and you will find delicious plant-based options.
- Discover and welcome the world of plants! There are so many incredible types of fruits, beans, vegetables, seaweeds, sprouts, nuts, seeds and whole grains (beyond what you see in the store). When you try your hand at being more plant-conscious (and, as a result, planet-conscious), you will expand your culinary repertoire quite a bit. Enjoy it, and never stop exploring the amazing plant kingdom.
- Be excited and proud of your food choices. Eating for the planet feels really great, and making food choices that are beyond just what our taste buds crave is an incredible act of compassion and kindness. Be proud every day about the effort you make to be more plant- and planet-conscious.
Or, if you’re in the mood for something more refreshing and sweet, opt for fresh or freeze-dried fruit.