Living a plant-based lifestyle is fast becoming the way of the modern world. And it is for good reason. The world as we know it is changing at a rapid pace due to the effects of human consumption. From global warming and waste pollution to the loss of biodiversity and deforestation, our earth is being depleted every second of every day.
Living a sustainable life encompasses many aspects. The way you shop, what you buy, what you eat and drink and how you travel.
One of the easiest, and most impactful, ways of making a positive contribution to your health and that of the earth is to switch to a plant-based lifestyle and eat sustainably sourced food.
What is a plant-based diet?
A plant-based diet consists mostly of plants. This includes sustainable food sources like fruits and vegetables, legumes, grains, beans, nuts, oils, soya and seeds. When you follow this type of diet, you avoid eating animal products such as meat, chicken, fish, eggs, milk or cheese etc.
Why is a plant-based diet more sustainable sourced food?
Animal farming and products have a negative effect on the environment. This is mainly due to the resources used to feed the animals. According to the documentary Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret, 450 grams of beef requires 9 500 liters of water, eggs need 1 800 liters and cheese 3 400 liters. Animal agriculture produces 65% of the world’s nitrous oxide emissions, which has a global warming impact 296 times greater than carbon dioxide.
Raising livestock for humans to eat generates nearly 15% of total greenhouse gas emissions according to the FAO. This sum is greater than all the transportation emissions combined. Nearly 70% of agricultural land is also used. This leads to a major contributor of deforestation, biodiversity loss and water pollution. By decreasing the consumption of foods like meat and other animal products, large amounts of food can be freed up for human consumption.
Plant-based diets on the other hand require less energy from fossil fuels, less land and less water to grow. Not only does this make it more sustainable for the earth, but the health impacts on humans is vast.
What are the benefits of a plant-based diet to your health?
There are many benefits to switching to a plant-based or vegan diet. It may help:
- Lower your blood pressure
- Keep your heart healthy
- Prevent type 2 diabetes
- You lose weight
- You live longer
- Decrease your risk of getting cancer
- Improve your cholesterol
- Minimize your risk of a stroke
- Keep your brain healthy and strong
- Reduce inflammation
What are the environmental positive impacts of a plant-based diet?
Over and above all of these health benefits for you, plant-based living has many positive environmental impacts such as reducing carbon footprints, mitigating climate change, water is conserved, and animal and plant habitats are saved.
How can you make the transition easier?
Completely changing your lifestyle to a more sustainable diet is not an easy task. If you have a family, you might also need to convince them as to why eating less meat and more plants is beneficial for everyone.
To help, here are some tips:
1. Explain to them why you want to make the change.
As above, there are many benefits. Sit down with your family and talk about the issues the planet is facing and make them aware of the impact they can have as individuals.
2. Involve your family in the meal preparation and serving.
When your family can have a little fun with their meals, it can make the transition to plant-based easier. Putting together tacos or allowing them to choose their own toppings for meat-less pizzas is a good place to start.
3. Try putting a meat-less twist on a family favorite.
Unlike a couple of years ago, today there are many options available that allow for easy swapping out of meat for meat-free. Try pea protein mince, soya sausages, plant-based burger patties or schnitzels and mix them up with what your family already loves. You might be surprised that they won’t even know the difference.
4. Reframe the way you think about meat.
Instead of centering meals around meat, start with vegetables and then if you must, add a small amount of meat or a meat-free alternative.
5. Make plates appealing and colorful
A plate that looks bright and colorful is visually appealing and appetizing. Aim to create a rainbow of greens, reds, purples, yellows, oranges and whites.
6. Be inspired
Thanks to the Internet, there are so many different sites where you can find inspiration for your next meal. Try different cuisines from different parts of the world. Get creative and use fruits and vegetables that you haven’t tried before.
Here are some recipes to try:
7. Grow your own
Growing your own fruits, vegetables or herbs can be very rewarding. You also don’t need a lot of space. Start with something simple and build on from there. Even just a small pot of basil can add a lot of flavor to various dishes.
Living a plant-based life doesn’t have to be daunting. Start by changing one meal a week and then go from there. If we all work together, we can make a positive environmental impact in the world and those who share it with us.