Did you know that I follow a plant-based diet? Yep, vegan since 2017. My decision was based on the mantra that “when I know better, I do better”. Now, let me really clear… I do not force my nutrition clients to adopt an exclusive plant-based diet. I also am able to counsel many people who continue to consume animal products. I will however, encourage most of my clients to incorporate more whole foods, vegetable, plants, nuts, seeds and fungi into their diet… why? Because for most nutritional symptomatology, that is what the science says to do for better health outcomes. Each client however, will adopt a diet that works for them, along with my recommendations for diet and lifestyle.
I also believe that in order to provide a holistic approach to nutrition, that also includes planetary and environmental health. Did you know that raising animals for food requires massive amounts of land, food, energy, and water? The by-products of animal agriculture pollute our air and waterways. By shunning animal products, vegans are de facto environmentalists. So… let’s talk about these things in a little more detail…
As our appetite for meat increases, countries all over the world are bulldozing huge swaths of land to make more room for animals as well as crops to feed them… entire ecosystems are being destroyed to fuel humans’ addiction to meat. According to scientists at the Smithsonian Institution, seven football fields’ worth of land is bulldozed every minute to create more room for farmed animals and the crops that feed them. And in the U.S., 80 percent of available land is used to raise animals for food and grow grain to feed them—that’s almost half the total land mass of the US.
Did you know it takes more than 2,400 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of cow flesh, whereas it takes about 180 gallons of water to make 1 pound of whole wheat flour.
What about the air?
Carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide together cause the vast majority of global warming. Did you know that producing only 2 pounds of beef causes more greenhouse-gas emissions than driving a car for three hours. According to the United Nations Climate Action Plan, a global shift toward a vegan diet is one of the steps necessary to combat the worst effects of climate change.
Factory farms also produce massive amounts of dust and other contaminates that pollute the air. A study in Texas found that animal feedlots produce more than 7,000 tons of particulate dust every year and that the dust “contains biologically active organisms such as bacteria, mold, and fungi from the feces and the feed.” And when the cesspools holding tons of urine and feces get full, factory farms may circumvent water pollution limits by spraying liquid manure into the air, creating mists that are carried away by the wind and inhaled by nearby residents – usually in socio-depressed areas.
Did you know that a single dairy cow emits more than19 pounds of volatile organic compounds per year, making dairies the largest source of the smog-making gas, surpassing trucks and passenger cars?
Let’s Talk about water
The one trillion pounds of waste produced by factory-farmed animals each year are usually used to fertilize crops, and they subsequently end up running off into waterways—along with the drugs and bacteria that they contain. Many tons of waste end up in giant pits in the ground or on crops, polluting the air and groundwater.
Did you know that according to the US Environmental Protection Agency, agricultural runoff is the number one source of pollution in our waterways?
How about Cruelty?
In addition to polluting the environment, factory farming strives to produce the most meat, milk, and eggs as quickly and cheaply as possible and in the smallest amount of space possible, resulting in abusive conditions for animals. Cows, calves, pigs, chickens, turkeys, and other animals are kept in small cages or stalls, where they are often unable to turn around. They are deprived of exercise so that all their energy goes toward producing flesh, eggs, or milk for human consumption. They are fed drugs that fatten them more quickly, and they are genetically manipulated to grow faster or produce much more milk or eggs than they would naturally.
Don’t be fooled by products labeled as “organic” or “free-range.” Because definitions and enforcement of regulations are inconsistent, it is difficult to determine which products actually come from animals who are treated decently. Since none of the labels applies to transport or slaughter, and none prohibits bodily mutilations such as debeaking, tail-docking, ear-notching, or dehorning, the worst cruelty continues to be completely unregulated.
So after all this information, what can you do?
Switching to a primarily plant-based diet or reducing dramatically your intake of animal products reduces your “ecological footprint,” allowing you to tread lightly on the planet and be compassionate to its inhabitants. With so many great plant-based options, eating green has never been more delicious. Whether you go vegetarian or vegan for the environment, for your health, or for animals, you have the power to change the world, simply by changing what’s on your plate.
And know you know…