There are very few people in the United States that fully realize how they’re diet affects more than just them. Ever since I switched to a plant-based diet my eyes have been opened to my connections to the world around me and exactly how much of an impact my decisions make. Switching to a whole foods, plant-based diet is the best thing for everyone and everything living on this planet and here’s why.
Firstly, it is great for your health. Some of the largest and most intensive scientific studies done to date have studied the relationship between the traditional, meat-based Western diet and health. According to the CDC, most of the number one killers in the U.S., such as cardiovascular disease, some cancers, stroke, and diabetes are nutritionally related. In the United States, one person is killed by heart disease every minute, says the Heart Foundation. And according to the CDC, from 1980 to 2011, the crude prevalence of diagnosed diabetes increased 176%. All of these illnesses can be prevented and even, in some cases, reversed with the adoption of a plant-based diet and a healthy lifestyle. Considering how processed most meat is today, it is obvious that a balanced, plant-based diet is the best option for your health. When you begin feeding your body with the nutrients it needs in the way that nature intended them to be eaten, your body thrives. Your body becomes healthy from the inside out, acne and skin clears, your hair and nails become stronger, and you are full of more energy than you ever knew you could have without that third cup of coffee. If you simply love your body by giving it what it needs, it will be everything you always wanted it to be.
Secondly, it’s good for animals. According to the USDA, in 2013, close to 10 billion animals were killed to be consumed. This is excluding fish which make up a large portion of the animals killed to be eaten. For more information on the numbers of animals slaughtered each year, here is a link to a statistical chart. Throughout the years the number of slaughtered animals has increased while the treatment of them has only gotten more inhumane. Dairy cows are artificially inseminated again and again only to have their babies taken form them within hours so that their milk can be collected and sold. Baby male chicks are ground up alive to be made into food pellets for farmed fish. Did your tuna salad taste a bit like chicken? These are only a few of the cruelties that these animals endure for the sake of satisfying human taste buds that don’t need meat to survive in the first place.
Lastly, it’s good for the environment. Global warming is one of the major global threats today. The UN determined that raising livestock for consumption generates more climate-heating gases than all carbon-dioxide-emitting vehicles combined. Livestock accounts for almost 10 percent of human-induced carbon dioxide emissions, 37 percent of methane emissions (methane is more than 20 times more powerful than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas according to the US EPA), as well as 65 percent of nitrous oxide emissions (nitrous oxide is over 300 times more powerful than carbon dioxide according to the US EPA). Not only that, according to a FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) study, livestock operations accounted for 30 percent of the earth’s entire land surface use, much of which was deforested to create pastureland. The Save Our Seas foundation says that overfishing has lead to 80 percent of fish stocks either fully exploited, overexploited, or depleted. While bottom trawling is responsible for destroying miles of coral reefs and countless habitats.
If every American simply reduced chicken consumption by one meal per week, the carbon dioxide savings would be equivalent to removing 500,000 cars from the road. Most of our agricultural land is used to grow grain for livestock. According to Princeton bioethicist Peter Singer, the 756 million tons of grain consumed by farm animals would be enough to provide 1.4 billion people living in poverty with approximately 3 pounds of grain a day. That is more than twice what is necessary to survive. The choice is simple and the facts are all there. Making the switch to a compassionate, healthy life is a slow journey. One filled with delicious and new foods that you may never have even heard of. Try incorporating a new, meatless recipe into your diet every week. To save our planet and all of those living on it, including ourselves, we must fill our plates with compassion. Together we can save the world!
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