Toward a Greener Diet

It’s getting to be that time of year again — Food Day is right around the corner! As I wrote last year, Food Day (officially October 24th) is a celebration of and opportunity to advocate for sustainable, health-promoting, and fair food policies. And for the second time, I’m spearheading the festivities on my university’s campus next week. This year the theme of the national Food Day campaign is “Toward a Greener Diet.” I wanted to take this blog post to share what a greener diet means to me, because I truly think this needs to be the foundation of the rebuilding of the food system.

A greener diet is a diet that is more plant-based and less animal-based.

A greener diet is healthier.

Because most of our livestock are routinely fed antibiotics that are promoting the proliferation of antibiotic-resistant pathogens.

Because the unsanitary living conditions of the animals and the fault-ridden food inspection process enable such pathogens to travel from the farm to our plates.

Because the people who develop the least chronic disease and live the longest, healthiest lives are the ones who eat the most minimally processed, plant-based foods.

A greener diet is kinder.

Because whether or not you believe eating animal products is inherently morally wrong (I actually don’t, for the record), there is no excuse for the undeniably cruel way most livestock are treated by the factory farm system.

A greener diet is more sustainable.

Because animal agriculture is one of the leading contributors to deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions.

Because one gram of protein from beef takes 18 gallons of water to produce while one gram of protein from beans takes 3 gallons of water to produce.

Because we could feed millions more people at lower cost if the land used to grow food for livestock were used to grow food for humans.

Because animal agriculture produces more toxic waste than we have room to dispose of safely.

Because if the world continues to consume animal products at the current and projected rates, we will soon run out of land and resources on which to raise the animals.

Because even pastured-raised animal products are unsustainable, even if they are more natural.

Because avoiding animal products is by far the single most effective action you can take to mitigate climate change.

I’ve transitioned over time to a completely plant-based diet for all of these reasons. I started to eat fewer and fewer animal products when I learned how much better a plant-based diet is for one’s health. I stopped eating meat entirely when I could no longer escape the truth about the way livestock are treated. I completely stopped eating fish, eggs, and dairy as well when I could no longer justify the unmeasurable destruction animal agriculture causes to the climate, ecosystems, and natural resources.

I’m certainly not demanding that you all become vegan tomorrow, but I don’t think it’s too much to ask that you take this upcoming Food Day as an opportunity to open yourself up to the idea of making some “greener” changes in the way you eat. It’s all about the simple goal of aligning our actions with our values — simple, but clearly not easy.

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