protect our planet: plant-based goes mainstream
Curtail the Climate Crisis
Wherever you stand on climate change, policies are changing that regulate protections relating to global warming, carbon emissions, and clean air and water. Yet, Wang warns that those policies largely overlook the role food systems and choices play on the world stage as populations and food demand increase. For example, in 2006, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) determined that the livestock sector produced more greenhouse gas emissions (that raise temperatures and sea levels) than transportation. Methane and nitrous oxide—20 and 295 times more powerful than carbon dioxide, respectively—are generated by raising livestock. And emissions from an animal farm can be 250 times higher than from a field of legumes!
Animal Agriculture Affects Us All
Wang points out that, globally, 800 million people suffer from undernutrition and insecure food supplies—a startling figure magnified by the fact that 35% of grains worldwide are fed to livestock. In addition, vast tracts of land and even whole regions are used for cattle-raising and feed production. According to FAO, 30% of the planet’s ice-free terrain is used for these purposes. In the Amazon rainforest, about 80% of ongoing deforestation is for raising livestock. This clearing the land of flora and fauna—plus polluting the soil and rivers with pathogens and drug residues from animal waste—is accelerating the global biodiversity crisis as well.
Personal Choice Protects the Planet
We can no longer take our planet for granted nor assume natural resources and environmental sustainability can endure forever without our taking personal responsibility. Eating less non-veg foods or switching to plant-based entirely are helpful steps anyone can take. Sure, it may seem a hassle at first, but Wang asks:
What keeps us from following a plant-based diet? It requires overcoming our habits and our tastes, learning new ways...However, when seen through the lens of fate of Earth's climate and resources, don't these challenges all of a sudden seem minuscule?
Change is worth the effort, because what’s good for the planet is good for you too. Sanjay Gupta, M. D., chief medical correspondent for CNN, briefly explains that just "eating less meat" makes a huge difference in our health and quality of life.
Plants, the ultimate food for healthy living, inspired the founding of Veestro - with organic vegan meals prepared from scratch and delivered to your door. Whether you’re a plant-based connoisseur or just getting started, we invite you to join us in making conscious choices that collectively promote the well-being of our beautiful planet.
* * ** George C. Wang, M.D., Ph.D., is a geriatrician and integrative medicine physician, assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University Medical Center, and adjunct assistant professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.