A greener plate for a greener planet

by Salena Fourie

For centuries the associations that went with a plant-based diet had everything to do with not eating animals. Today, out of the fear of global warming, many people are changing to a plant-based diet solely to save the planet.

Illustration done by Anieszka Banks

While the changing of a diet might not seem to have a great impact on the environment, in an online article posted by Independent News, this diet change is referred to as being one of the “single biggest ways” to reduce environmental harm.

According to research done by Oxford University, cutting out meat and dairy from one’s diet could reduce an individual’s carbon footprint by 73%.

Apart from greenhouse gas emissions being reduced, a plant-based diet would ensure freeing up the land lost to agriculture - this being one of the primary causes of mass wildlife extinction.

The transition to a plant-based diet allows our environment to benefit us directly too. While being in the midst of a water crisis, simply changing your diet could save even more water.

According to Global Citizen, it takes 100 to 200 times more water to produce a kilogram of beef than it does to produce a kilogram of plant-based foods. For example, replacing a roast chicken with a bean stew saves 4,325 litres of water, and you don’t lose any protein.

The raising of livestock in agriculture doesn't only contribute to great amounts of water loss but also erodes and weakens the soil. This usually leads to deforestation, which destroys many elements that provide nutrients and resilience to the environment. However, by planting a range of plants instead, the soil is nourished and this leads to long-term sustainability.

The environment isn’t all that benefits from a plant-based diet. Changing to a plant-based diet also provides multiple health benefits.

A vegan or plant-based diet provides a wide range of much-needed nutrients, which include all the necessary proteins.

The risks of contracting colorectal cancer from red meat consumption were released by the World Health Organization. These risks are outlined as being on top of existing health concerns about heart diseases and other health complications related to the consumption of meat products, both processed and free-range.

Going vegan or vegetarian does not ensure instant health benefits, as it has to be done in a healthy manner and maintained just like any other diet.

Photo sourced from: Easyellavegan.com

However, switching to a plant-based diet forces you to actively consider the ingredients of the foods you are consuming.

This is not as difficult as it may seem and there are a lot of tasty, healthy and cheap vegan recipes available online.

Ditching your animal products for plants can sound like a big change. Small steps can be taken before switching completely. For example, one can start by eating less dairy or replacing a certain type of meat with plants.

It’s the simple changes in our everyday lives that help resolve a not-so-simple problem.

Image sourced from: @someveganfacts on Instagram

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