Our diet, health, and the environment are all perpetually linked; what we consume and how we consume our food has an undoubtable impact on the earth. Climate change has always been a pertinent issue, but with the People’s Climate March making headlines a few months ago, more and more people are tuning in on this subject demanding action. President Obama’s plans for regulating climate change during his last two years in office have brought up new issues and a call to action for the future of our planet and for generations to come, but what exactly does this mean for us?
It’s interesting to note that everything we do, whether it’s driving our car to work or eating a burger at In-n-Out, takes a toll our planet, bit by bit. According to a study covered on ecowatch.com, scientists suggest that the growing worldwide trend of the Western diet (consisting of meats and dairy products) will ultimately lead to an 80% increase in greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture and meat production by 2050. This trend of a diet rich in meat, processed foods, and refined sugars has led to the rise in Type II Diabetes not only in America, but in unexpected countries like China, where traditional cuisine is being replaced with junk food–proliferated through the media, this adoption is a result of higher incomes and demand. The media and acculturation are huge culprits for this worldwide shift to the Western diet.
How would the environment and climate benefit from us weaning off our culturally-treasured diet of Big Macs, steak, and southern BBQ? A diet more similar to that of a pescatarian or vegetarian would not only reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, but would simultaneously reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by unbelievable amounts. This shift would also prevent the destruction of forests and savannah for farmland, preserving biodiversity. Keep in mind that agriculture already accounts for 25% of all GHG emissions.
We are not saying to completely wipe out meat from your life. We love our protein too, and realize its importance in an active lifestyle. Try having a meat-free day once a week; it’s easier than you might think. Check out our article on the protein-rich foods we like substituting for meat every so often. While we enjoy our chow-downs on burgers and steak, we also keep in mind our role as environmentally-responsible citizens, making an effort to lower our carbon footprint and create a healthier earth for generations to come.