We make many decisions in our lives each day that impact our carbon footprints. Surprisingly, one of the most significant decisions to affect climate change is the food on our plates.
The food on our plates you say? Yes, and here’s why: The raising of livestock for meat, eggs and milk generates 15-20% of global greenhouse gas emissions, the second highest source of emissions and greater than all transportation combined. According to the EAT-Lancet report written by a team of 37 leading scientists and published in the prestigious Lancet medical journal in 2019, “A diet rich in plant-based foods and with fewer animal source foods confers both improved health and environmental benefits.”
So how do you shift your diet towards plants? There are a number of different approaches, but the key is to be motivated (you are!) and to take the first step.
As a first step, focus on adding more plants to your diet. Add fruit to your breakfast. If you only eat salad with your dinner, consider adding a small salad to your lunch as well as your dinner. And eat an apple, orange, banana, or other piece of fruit for a midday snack. Try a plant-based milk in your coffee.
Once you make these small additions, shift to slowly removing animal products from your diet. Replace the eggs and bacon on your breakfast plate with whole grains like oatmeal and fruit. At lunch, replace your cold cuts and cheese sandwich with a bean burrito, veggie burger, or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. At dinner, move to meat as a condiment rather than the main course. Replace your typical meat pasta sauce with a meatless red sauce and add more vegetables to your plate.
Beans and lentils are your new friends. So are greens, tofu, and more veggies. There are a plethora of vegan cookbooks and websites to help you on your journey. Try the recipes here: https://www.meatlessmonday.com/favorite-recipes/. Another great resource is the Vegan Starter Kit from the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine at https://www.pcrm.org/good-nutrition/plant-based-diets/vegan-starter-kit.
You’ve likely been eating the Standard American Diet for a long time (i.e., your whole life), so don’t expect to be able to ditch meat, eggs, and dairy in a single day. Go slowly; give your body, your palate, your biome, and your mind time to adapt to the change. And any step you take, no matter how small is a step in the right direction.
If you live in the Seattle area, you may be interested to know that we will be giving a talk entitled Eat for the Planet on Sunday, March 8th, 2020 at 7pm in the Admin Building. Please consider joining us for lots of tips and tricks on eating more plants.
Working together, we can help take care of our common home.
Paul & Suzanna Litwin
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