Plant-Based Diet vs Vegan
A plant-based diet means consuming a plant-based diet and a little or no animal-based food. While vegan is an entirely consuming plant-based diet, read here for more on the topic. But, Is a plant-based diet good for the environment?
What Is The Relationship Between Plant-Based Diet And The Environment?
If a plant-based diet means consuming majorly on crops, and little or no animal products, how then is a plant-based diet good for the environment?
According to the United Nations, the consumption of meat and dairy products in the West is fueling global warming.
A plant-based diet is, without a doubt, good for the environment. Suppressing livestock farming and instead opting for a plant-based diet can save the environment from animal pollution and deforestation.
Despite consuming too much water, animal waste contributes so much to water pollution through animal waste.
Livestock farming can cause a high concentration of ammonia, which is far much harmful to the environment than carbon dioxide.
Why is a Plant-Based Diet Better for the Environment?
Can help reduce global hunger
Did you know that it takes far more crops to feed livestock than it would take to feed humans? To produce 1 pound of beef, it requires you to yield 25 pounds of grain. And, if you were to supplement meat with soy or lentils, you are likely to get equal or much more proteins. Thus, it is more economical and healthier to feed on plant protein than animal proteins.
Livestock farming is inefficient and wastes too many resources compared to planting food for human consumption. Livestock farming ironically takes more food from the world, than they can give back.
According to researchers, farming direct crops for human consumption can feed four billion more people than growing plants for grazing animals. Additionally, only a small fraction of consumed energy by an animal converts to dietary protein.
For these reasons and others, we should concentrate more on a plant-based diet to reduce global hunger.
Can help to reduce greenhouse gases
A plant-based diet is no longer about the latest trend. Experts have shown that the diet can help mitigate climate change effects. You can use a plant-based diet can be to reduce greenhouse gases.
Livestock agriculture emits 37% of anthropogenic methane which animal generates in their guts—additionally, acid rain and acidification of the ecosystem result from anthropogenic ammonia emissions caused by livestock farming.
Did you know agriculture causes 25% of greenhouse gases? And, 80 per cent of the gas is as a result of animal agriculture. It is, therefore, possible to reduce greenhouse gases by 70% if we would transit to a plant-based diet.
The same amount of gas released when producing a half-pound of hamburger meat is the same amount of gas released while driving a 3000-pound car for nearly 10 miles. For this reason, livestock farming produces far much more greenhouse gases than the entire transportation sector. Regarding this study, plant-based is good for the environment.
Can help to reduce farmland use
Livestock products like meat and dairy, take more from the environment than they give in return. Even though animal products give 37% of proteins and 18% of total calories, they occupy 83% of farmland and emit 60% of greenhouse gases.
According to the National Academy of Sciences, if Americans would transit to vegan, they would free up new farmland sufficient to feed 350 million more people.
According to United Nations Food Agriculture Organization) FAO, livestock farming occupies 70% of the agricultural land. And, planet’s 30% land surface.
Can help reduce the use of freshwater
According to the United Nations, 1 billion people across the world lack safe water. Also, 4 billion people experience water scarcity for at least one month in a year.
Here are some of the reasons why we should transit to a plant-based diet
- Livestock consumes so much water compared to what crops require to feed people directly. A study shows that to produce 1kg of meat, it requires 13500 litres of water. While producing 1kg of corn, it requires 238 litres of water.
- By reducing the meat-based diet, we can save up to 55% of water usage.
- Animal waste and leftovers in our rivers and lakes can cause extreme water pollution.
- A plant-based burger requires 75-95% less water than a meat burger.
With all these reasons and more, a plant-based diet is good for the environment.
Can help reduce disease caused by:
1. Poor diet
Proper choice of a plant-based diet is known to reduce heart problems, diabetes, blood pressure, and control weight loss.
Even so, some plant-based diet like white rice and white bread has a high glycemic index. Thus, they can increase blood sugar levels.
Therefore, it is reasonable to emphasize a whole plant-based diet such as whole grains, vegetables, nuts, legumes, fruits, and healthy oils such as olive oil.
DASH diet, the MIND diet, and Mediterranean diets are rich in vitamins, fibre, and minerals, hence suitable for a healthy heart.
2. Caused by factory farming and potential for additional epidemics
Ending factory farming could reduce possible future pandemics like covid-19. If we could all give up eating meat, we could probably save us from zoonotic diseases.
Zoonotic are diseases spread through and between animals and humans.
In the past, diseases like Ebola, H1N1, and the current Covid-19 came from animals through meat consumption.
These diseases are known to have been transmitted from animals to the human via meat consumption.
There is only a little evidence suggesting that reduction or entire giving up meat consumption can reduce these pandemics. Even so, it is worth noting that choosing a plant-based diet can save the world from zoonotic diseases.
Health Benefits of Plant-Based Diet
- Studies show that people who follow an entirely plant-based diet have least chances of getting blood pressure related issues.
- Meat contains saturated fats, which are likely to cause heart-related health issues. These include cardiovascular, stroke, among others.
- A plant-based diet can reduce the mortality rate by 25%.
- Boost immune system
- Lowers risks of certain cancers
- Reduce inflammation
- Improved kidney functions
- Possible rehearsal of type 2 diabetes
A plant-based diet is not only good for the environment but also the health benefits. However, to get those health benefits, you will need a properly balanced diet to replace nutrients derived from animals.
You should, also, be in a position to emphasize on fresh, whole food rather than processed food.
What Is Whole-Food, Plant-Based Diet?
- Little or entirely no processed foods
- Minimal or ultimately no animal products
- Emphasize fruits, whole grains, seeds, legumes, nuts, and vegetables.
- Entirely excluding refined foods
Plant Based-Diet Cons
- For most people, it is not easy to forego all animal products. Even though we know the benefits, and we would love to go on a plant-based diet, that delicious chicken pie or grilled meat is always putting us to temptation.
- Also, if you miss on planning your plant-based diet well, you may not meet your required nutrients. It is, therefore, critical to seek help from a plant-based diet profession to help you plan your meals.
How You Can Start A Plant-Based Diet
The basic principle of every diet is the inclusivity of all required nutrients in your meal. These include proteins, vitamins, carbohydrates, and minerals. Planning your meal plan for a plant-based diet can be challenging. See some tips on how you can start your plant-based diet.
Proteins help your body repair worn out tissues, make enzymes, hormones, strong bones, muscles, skin, blood, and other body chemicals.
With all these functions in your body, let’s see which plant-based food will give you the required amount of proteins that your body needs.
Sources of proteins in the plant-based diet
- Split peas
- Soy products like soybeans, tofu, soy milk,
- nuts and
Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamins have a significant role to play in our bodies. Getting enough amounts of vitamins and minerals is critical. Vitamins help your body to heal wounds, boost the immune system, and convert food into energy, among other functions.
Sources of vitamins and minerals in a plant-based diet
Calcium Dark leafy greens, soy products, nut, and seeds
Zink Beans, legumes, nuts, seeds,
Folate Spinach, Broccoli salad, Almond, Salad
Vitamin C Citrus fruits, dark leafy greens, bell peppers
Vitamin B12 Sunflower seed
Magnesium beans, dark leafy grains, bananas, nuts, legumes
Vitamin B6 Oatmeal, Tofu, red lentil roasted cashews
Even though carbs are highly associated with obesity and other health problems, they are vital for energy production in our bodies. Some plant-based nutrients are healthy while some are not especially if taken in large quantities. Some plant-based food like white rice and white bread are not suitable for health, especially for people with health issues. It is, therefore, reasonable to replace them with brown rice and white bread, respectively. Oats, brown rice, brown bread are some of the whole, fibre-rich foods healthy for your body.
Sources of Health Carb Plant-Based Diet
- sweet potatoes
- oats among others
By all means, a plant-based diet is good for the environment. Even so, we can still do more to make a plant-based diet more environmentally friendly.
Here is how we can improve our plant-based diet
- Choosing unprocessed food
- Choose food with compostable packaging.
- Reduce food waste
It merely means eating food that is in its original state, without additives or preservatives. Additives and perseverative are, in most cases, consist of chemicals that might be harmful to your body and the environment.
Choose food with compostable packaging.
Most company packs their food in plastic packages that are less likely to decompose quickly. These packagings are also one of the factors contributing to environmental pollution.
How can you reduce food waste?
Study shows that Americans waste approximately 150,000 tons of food in a day. Fruits and vegetables are the most thrown away. Maybe because fruits and vegetables are perishable and they spoil quickly. Food wastage causes environmental pollution.
Here are tips to reduce vegetable and fruit waste
Think of the food you waste and cut down on them
Sometimes we buy too much food unknowingly, and we end up throwing it away. Thinking of the food, you regularly waste will help you know how much you need to cut down.
Write down your shopping list.
Writing down what you need to buy will help you budget and avoid buying excessive food, especially perishable foods like fruits and vegetables.
Before preparing your meals, count how many people will be eating to avoid leftovers.
Make sure you understand the food date labels
Understanding expiration and manufacturing date labels will help you arrange food in your fridge well so that you can start with the cooking foods with short expiry dates.
Learn how to store your food properly
Most people throw away their food because they do not know how to store them properly. Learn the foods that need to be stored in a freezer, wrapping fresh food well, and even air tightening containers.
Are plant-based diets sustainable?
You can define food sustainability as the diet that has little or no environmental impacts and can subsidize to food and sustenance security and healthy life for present and future generation.
Plant-based diets are more sustainable in comparison with animal-based foods. They use limited natural resources, and they are less toxic to the environment.
If plant-based diet impact on the environment is so significant, is it readily available?
Plant-based diet impact on the environment is excellent. Hence, by adopting a plant-diet lifestyle, we can improve and preserve nature’s territory, which is crucial for us and our future generation.
Having seen the environmental benefits of a plant-based diet, the next question should be, How available is a plant-based diet?
Unlike before, when people knew little or nothing about healthy living, people lifestyles have changed, and they are now adapting to a healthy life. The hotel industry is also opening up new restaurants and eateries for plant-based diets.
Agriculture sectors are also adopting crop growing and reducing livestock farming. Theirs is also enough information all over the internet about healthy diets. Hence, we no longer have any excuse for not adopting plant-based foods.
A plant-based diet is a way to go. Let’s all come together and adopt this new life of healthy living. Adapt to a plant-based diet, and preserve our water, atmosphere, and environment, for us and our future generation.
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