Plant based. Is this a savvy, sexy marketing term, or a beneficial diet? Plastic can totally be recycled and turned into things like new running shoes. Right? Non GMO, organic, local, what does it mean and why does it matter? Believe it or not, but plastic, meat and GMO’s have a massive role in climate change, the health of our species and others. It’s no overstatement to say these variables will help determine the future of our planet.
The fact is, small everyday decisions about food have a massive force either for or against our planet. Don’t worry, you don’t have to eat grass for the rest of your life or live in a cabin without running water to preserve energy. The changes can start off very small. Regardless, those are choices you need to make for your own conscious beliefs. And together we can make the world a healthier place.
Why plant based?
There are a million and one reasons why someone might choose to be vegan. Saving animals, helping the planet and the health benefits are just a few. But veganism goes beyond food. It encourages you to avoid cosmetic brands that test on animals, not to wear leather or fur and to stop using animals as entertainment (referring to zoos, circuses and tourist attractions).
So the reason you’re seeing, hearing and reading so much about plant based diet lifestyles is due to the benefits this choice offers. For a long time now we’ve known fruits and vegetables are good for us, so I guess someone was like “Heck let’s make them the base of our diets and see what happens!”. Once you move past the idea of every meal needing dairy and meat, the rest is pretty straightforward. We encourage you to do some of your own research on this topic. We know it’s not within everyone’s means to adopt a vegan lifestyle, however your food choices have impacts you might not be aware of. Put quite simply, the world cannot sustain our population while catering to the current Western diet. We need to figure out a way to live as human beings, but also take care of our planet.
the meat and dairy industries
Perfect little happy cow families are prancing around a warm sunny field. Sometimes they’re milked, but most of the time they play carelessly with all of their little moo friends (moo friends are fellow cows). And when a cow reaches an old age and passes away, his meat is used to make burgers and steaks. WOW. I wish this was what really happened on animal farms. Unfortunately, this could not be any further from the truth. Obviously I don’t need to go into detail about how animals are treated in both the meat and dairy industry. There’s plenty of information online. Besides the way these animals are treated, there are other barbaric practices these industries follow that are taking a toll on the environment. And every time you buy cheese, meat or milk, you are essentially supporting them.
The meat and dairy industries and factories are a leading cause in destroying our planet. The amount of fuel, food and time it takes to produce meat and dairy is just too much when compared to produce. For example, it takes 16 pounds of plant food and 5000 gallons of water to get 1 pound of cow meat. It only takes 25 gallons of water to grow 1 pound of wheat. It’s not a good use of our land resources, and we’re running out of space.
It would take a little over 35 million tons of food to end the worst cases of human starvation around the world. The frightening truth is more than 20 times that amount in grain is fed to farmed livestock every year, just to produce meat. The amount of people starving around the world is in the hundreds of millions, yet this food model takes our food to raise other food. Seems a bit backwards.
If 100 acres of cattle farm was converted into soybean fields, that crop would feed 30 times more people. Obviously we don’t want everyone to be restricted to eating just soybeans, but we do think it’s time people put more thought into their grocery shopping and meal choices, by not making meat and dairy staples. Besides there are benefits to plant based diets like phytonutrients, better heart health and increased fiber consumption.
Repeat after me: Plastic sucks. With so many better options for packaging, why are we still using a product that’s chalked full of chemicals, and impossible to recycle or break down? Every piece of plastic ever created (since the 19th century) still exists on this planet. Plastic can’t truly be recycled, only down cycled. Down cycling is sort of like taking a picture of a picture. You will never get the original quality back, and each time it’s done the condition is worse. Where as with something like glass (if recycled properly) can be made back into it’s original form.
Due to the disastrous flaw in plastic, 8 million metric tons of it are forced into our waterways and landfills every year. It may seem as though every product imaginable contains some kind of plastic, but you can take small measures to improve your personal consumption. Start by making simple changes like carrying your own reusable bags to grocery stores, drinking out of reusable containers and buying products that are packaged in glass, cardboard, paper or biodegradable material.
No we don’t mean get on a plane and jet off to an all-inclusive, luxe getaway (sadly). We’re talking about the journey your food takes to get to you. You’re probably thinking “Oh no! You’re just like Karen at work who won’t stop talking about her 100 mile diet!”. Well you can give Karen a high 5 for us because the 100 mile diet is rad. It restricts your food consumption to products that are grown or farmed within 100 miles of your home. David Suzuki believes the average meal in North America travels about 1200km from it’s original farm to your plate. That’s a lot of oil being used. The ultimate consumer choice for food would be organic, local products. Again we know people are busy and not everyone lives in a lush rain forest with an array of readily available produce. However, most of us can grow an herb garden.
And trust me we freaking love avocados, so we’re not here to tell you to give up produce that’s grown far away. Perhaps just buy what you can at the local level, and try to buy everything else organic, or at the very least non GMO. Start your own mini garden and buy from local farmers when possible. Aim to have half of your dinner plate full of food from your own garden, or from a local farm.
what you can do
- Buy local
- Buy Organic (Check out our article buying organic on the cheap.)
- Every time you buy something, think about it as an investment.
- Invest in products that share the same morals you do.
- Recycle, compost, buy from thrift shops, garage sales, and aim to live your life more minimally.
There’s no need to feel guilty about buying things with plastic on them, or for living within your budget. You’re a human being, and the fact is you need to do what’s attainable for you. With that being said, everyone can take small actions. Need a new yoga mat? Go on a classifieds website and buy a used one! Don’t want to give up meat? Boycott companies that test on animals, try “Meatless Mondays” and avoid buying leather. There’s a lot of pressure on consumers, but together we can make a difference.