The year is 2020. The Planet Earth has been around for about 4 billion years and humans have lived in it for a mere 200,000 years. But it seems that the days of the Earth are coming to an end. The Earth survived a lot of things but it might not survive us. Did you know that humans, the species that constitute just 0.01% of all life have destroyed 83% of all wild mammals?
While the world is still debating the impact of the humans the earth, the earth is slowly getting closer to its last breath. Now, the onus of saving the earth falls on the ones who destroyed it in the first place. Humans.
One of the best and long term methods of saving is by following an environment-friendly diet. The environment will thank you for it. Changing your diet is a huge lifestyle change but many such diets have recently gained popularity and are certainly not as difficult to follow as one may imagine.
Following an environment-friendly diet does not necessarily mean you must go vegan. There are many diets that are helpful for the environment and you can choose to follow any one that suits you. Following an environmentally friendly diet is something you can do to save your home. It’s your chance to be the hero. So, let’s get started
Best Diets for the Environment
A vegan diet includes only plant-based foods and beverages and eliminates all animal products. Its main aim is to stop the use and harm of living beings. The vegan diet means removing any and all animal byproducts, or foods involving animals in their processing mechanism. Poultry, meat, fish, and dairy are replaced with veggies, fruits, beans, nuts, and grains.
If you really want to contribute to the environment, then think of veganism as a lifestyle instead of a diet. Its principles can be applied beyond food. This is the lifestyle fit for the true animal lovers. This means steering clear of clothes, makeup, personal care items, medication, and even entertainment options that exploit animals or use animal products. Given the rise of ‘cruelty-free’ industry, following a vegan lifestyle has become a lot easier. This practice of veganism as a lifestyle has been termed as ‘Ethical Veganism’. Recently, a British court ruled that Ethical veganism is a "philosophical belief" and so is protected in law.
The most practical method of veganism is to minimize the harm and use of animals as much as you can.
Vegetarianism first began in ancient India. In fact, currently 70% of the world’s vegetarians are of Indian descent and there are more vegetarians in India compared to any other country in the world.
Going meat-free is the common denominator in vegetarian and vegan diets. Vegan eating is the stricter form of vegetarianism.
They both encompass basic characteristics of a diet that's healthy as well as environmentally friendly since it emphasizes a diet of healthy, plant-based foods – such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, plant-based proteins like beans, soy and seeds, and then healthy oils.
Vegetarian lifestyles are associated with a reduced risk of many chronic illnesses, including heart disease, many types of cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity.
It is a myth that vegetarians don't get enough protein since it's actually pretty easy for vegetarians to meet their protein needs, even if they don’t eat eggs and dairy products. Plant-based proteins like tofu, beans, lentils and whole-grains breads and cereals, are deliciously simple methods of getting enough protein.
Both vegetarians and meat-eaters are at-risk of becoming iron-deficient, but eating beans, tofu and spinach and vitamin C-rich foods will enhance iron absorption.
This is a bit like the middle ground of vegetarian and non-vegetarian diets. This is mostly a plant-based diet, but allows fish, eggs and the occasional meat fix. The Flexitarian diet is easier to follow, while still reducing food strain on the environment.
The best thing about the Flexitarian diet is it can be interpreted according to the dieters. For a regular meat eater, it's easier to do and less of a lifestyle shift than simply cutting out meat.
Reducing meat consumption in any amount helps preserve natural resources by decreasing greenhouse gas emissions, as well as water and land use. A research on the sustainability of plant-based diets found that partially replacing meat with plant foods, could decrease greenhouse gas emissions by 7%.
More consumption of plant foods will drive the demand for more land to be used for growing fruits and vegetables for humans instead of feed for livestock. And cultivating plants requires considerably fewer resources than raising animals to eat. In fact, as calculated, growing plant protein uses 10 times less energy than producing animal protein.
Raw Food Diet
The raw food diet means consuming foods and drinks that are unprocessed, are completely plant-based, and ideally organic. The principle of this diet is that at least 3 ¼ of the food intake should consist of uncooked food. Most raw foodists also tend to be vegans and do not eat or drink anything animal based. They also believe that with a raw food diet, the body is better equipped to fight and prevent diseases, especially chronic diseases. Cooking reduces and destroys some nutrients like water-soluble vitamins B and C so eating food raw ensures a better supply of these nutrients.
They believe that this is because raw and living foods contain essential food enzymes. Heating food to more than 116 °F, or 47 °C, destroys these food enzymes. Promoters of this diet believe that enzymes are the life force of a food. Nature has provided each food with a unique perfect mix of enzymes. These vital enzymes allow us to digest our food fully without relying on our own digestive enzymes.
*This is yet to be confirmed by scientific research.
The argument is that the cooking process alters or destroys these enzymes, as well as essential vitamins and minerals. They believe that cooked foods take longer to digest, and they clog up the arteries and the digestive system with partially digested fats, proteins, and carbohydrates.
Raw food dieters maintain that a person on the diet will experience more energy, clearer skin, better digestion, weight loss, and a lower risk of developing heart and cardiovascular disease.
The raw food diet cuts down on waste generated in traditional food preparation and cooking. Choosing organic produce also reduces impact in the form of herbicides, pesticides and chemical fertilizers.
A raw-food vegan may not get enough of some nutrients, including protein, vitamin B12, iron, calcium, fatty acids, and vitamin D. One study also found that raw food vegetarians may be at risk of having lower bone mass, although their bones appeared to be otherwise healthy.
If not taken to an extreme, most dietitians would agree, however, that an increased intake of vegetables and fruits and a reduction in processed food would be good for most people.
Cooking kills some bacteria, toxins, and harmful compounds in food. It requires a lot of research - raw legumes, such as kidney beans can be very dangerous. This diet requires a lot of discipline, organization, and preparation to ensure a safe and adequate intake of essential nutrients.
The Final Word…
If you care about the planet and the future of its inhabitants then the choice is clear: Stop eating meat. Non-vegetarian diets are responsible for almost twice as many dietary greenhouse-gas emissions per day as vegetarians and around two-and-a-half times as much as vegans. The United Nations issued a statement that “[a] substantial reduction of [climate-change] impacts would only be possible with a substantial worldwide diet change, away from animal products.”
The UN in its report concluded that, By 2050, dietary changes could reduce global CO2 emissions by up to eight billion tonnes per year and free up several million square kilometres of land as compared to the current state.