Go Veg to Go Green

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by Healthy Latina in the City

Vegetable FieldEarth Day celebrates mother earth and reminds us to appreciate nature and practice ways to protect our environment. While we should recognize Earth Day and celebrate our planet this coming April 20th, I believe we should try to take care of our world everyday and  try to find new ways to help keep our planet clean year round. Composting, recycling, reusable bags and energy efficient light bulbs are great ways to contribute to the health of our earth, but remember I am writing the Healthy Latina in the City column… so why not think about taking care of ourselves and the planet at the same time. How you ask?

Well 40 days ago I decided to take a 30 day challenge to go vegan. A little extreme… I know. For the past 40 days I have not eaten any animal products of any kind: No meat, fish, chicken, cheese, milk or eggs. Basically if it ever came from an animal I did not and have not eaten it. This was not easy. My initial intention for eating vegan was specifically for health reasons, which I will talk about more in future articles. However, in doing research about vegan diets I came to learn that vegan and vegetarian diets can contribute enormously to the well being of our planet. Basically the way we eat and what we eat can affect our planet and our environment. Since April 20th is earth day I thought it would be nice to ease into talking about vegan-ism (and vegetarianism) by looking at how what we eat can affect our earth.

Being in a major city in the Bay Area I see that many people, stores, schools, companies and communities are being environmentally conscience by composting, recycling and driving hybrids, in fact I work in a state of the art green building. While all of these efforts do help a great deal, I have come to learn that many studies suggest that consuming a vegan or vegetarian diet can be an extremely effective way to combat global warming. Now I know this sounds a little crazy and extreme …but doesn’t this also: 

“The meat industry produces more greenhouse gases than all the SUVs, cars, trucks, planes, and ships in the world combined.” –United Nations Report

I was stunned and surprised when I learned about this. I thought how can the food industry make such an impact on our planet in a negative way? Then I began to think about how much meat I was eating, then about how much meat the United States eats, and then about how much meat the world eats, and then about how much that could be contributing to the devastation of our environment.

“Livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems” –United Nations report

Basically, the bottom line is: the meat we eat uses a lot of energy and omits lots of gases. Lots of energy is needed to operate livestock farms and transport the meat once ready to sell. It may not seem that much, but when you think about how many live stocks are on the planet… well that is a lot of energy being used and gasses being omitted into our environment.

“If every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and substituted vegetarian foods instead, the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than a half-million cars off U.S. roads”. –Environmental Defense

Now I understand that these are extreme ideas, but the reality is we should think about our planet and the best ways to protect it for future generations.  I am not saying go throw all your meat away, I realize it is very hard and this in fact may not be something that you may want to do.  I simply just wanted to provide you with another tool for taking care of our planet.

To understand more about how the meat industry can affect the environment check out this short YouTube video or the articles below.

 

Works cited:

Healthy Latina in the City is a contributing writer with a personal passion for nutrition and healthy living. While she is not a nutritionist, doctor, or personal trainer she wants to take you on her journey to live a healthy lifestyle and share tips that have worked for her to incorporate good health and nutrition into your life.