Well we’ve pretty much been told from the get go that munching on those veggies will help us to stay fit, healthy and generally fabulous but there are other (bigger than us) benefits to powering up on plants too.
Luckily (for us) we happened to evolve on Earth and not on the slightly more fiery Mars or tad chillier Neptune…..(no they haven’t discovered life on other planets it just feeds into our point 😉 ) but unfortunately for our home planet we haven’t always been so loving and kind back with climate change, the destruction of unique ecosystems and extinction of animal species becoming more and more concerning.
But don’t despair! There is a simple way we can all help to preserve the myriad of plants and animals, and help to protect our planet to pass on to future generations.
How you say? Well by eating those greens of course! 😀
OK so not solely the greens but also a wealth of other plant based ingredients; pulses, beans, lentils, grains, seeds, nuts……..mmm well we’re definitely getting hungry now!
And here’s how:
1. Going Down A Carbon Shoe Size
The contribution of raising livestock to global warming is now widely recognised. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that it could be responsible for 14.5 % of global greenhouse gas emissions, while other organizations like the Worldwatch Institute have estimated it could be as much as 51%. Animal waste then continues to worsen this as it produces large volumes of methane gas which raises Earth temperatures 20 times faster than carbon dioxide. Then with the additional burden of transportation and the fuel used to grow feed for livestock, we’re talking a very large carbon footprint.
2. Conserving our Water Wealth
The production of animal protein as opposed to plant based protein requires approximately 100 times more water when compared kilo for kilo. Groups such as the Water Footprint Network also estimate that it takes ~1,000 gallons of water to produce just 1 gallon of milk. Therefore decreasing our reliance on animal protein will reduce the enormous amount of valuable water we waste.
3. Protecting Plant and Animal Species
Worldwide almost a third of farmable land is now used for animal agriculture — much of it actually just to produce the feed for the pigs, cattle and chicken we then go on to consume. This is why animal agriculture contributes so considerably to deforestation and subsequently desertification (when the removal of native vegetation causes an increase in soil erosion leaving a barren landscape). These processes then contribute to the loss of whole species of animals like orangutans, red pandas, and sloths.
4. Saving our Seas
Animal agriculture is the leading cause of water pollution and ocean dead zones due to the use of waste from industrial farms as fertiliser. As it is untreated this manure contains large quantities of toxins which can’t be absorbed by the soil, instead they run off into the water system where they negatively effect aquatic ecosystems. One particular example can be seen in the Gulf of Mexico; the Mississippi River, polluted by farming in the American Midwest, lets out here and an 8,500 square foot dead zone was created due to oxygen depletion from animal manure and fertilisers, resulting in the loss of practically all marine life.
5. Keeping our Fresh Air Fresh!
In addition to producing methane the animal waste previously mentioned is also responsible releasing large quantities of ammonia. The is the most potent form of nitrogen gas and is regularly used as an industrial disinfectant. If it enters the water cycle it kills fish, causes algae blooms, and contributes to air pollution. Additionally, the air surrounding intensive farms often contains above average levels of hydrogen sulphide (the main contributing gas to acid rain) in addition to particulate matter, endotoxins, carbon dioxide and methane.
The Power of Eating for the Planet
So this has all sounded pretty scary hasn’t it!
We simply wanted to highlight the impact that our current reliance on animal products has on our environment as a means of suggesting that opting for more plant based foods could be beneficial to the protection of our planet. David Tilman, a fellow at The Institute of Environment even suggests a shift of the world’s population towards plant based diets could negate the environmental impact through greenhouse gas emissions of all motorised vehicles, planes, trains and ships combined (cauliflower steaks all round right?!)
Here at MACACHA we are passionate about the use of sustainably sourced, plant based ingredients not only for their lesser environmental impact but also for their health promoting properties. By including a large variety of colourful plants, seeds, nuts and fruits in our diets we gain a wealth of micronutrients including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals which allow our bodies to function at their absolute best.
We stay healthy and the Earth does too? Sounds like a win-win scenario to us! 😀
Written by Phoebe Liebling, Nutritional Therapist BSc DipNT mBANT mNNA mCNHC