Our health and environmental sustainability both depend on our consumption and production decisions. It is necessary that we start transforming our diets and food production to ensure the safety of the planet. Cutting back on meat and shifting to plant based diet not only saves our natural resources but also avoid health risks. Let’s take a look at few benefits of plant based diet for health and the planet.
Plant based food such as fruits and vegetables are low in calories and cholesterol as well as rich in vitamins and proteins, which helps to prevents various diseases. It reduces risk for cardiovascular disease, ischemic heart disease and cerebrovascular disease (Chun Shing Kwok, 2014). Moreover, these diets reduce all-cause mortality, risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and coronary heart disease (Fraser, 2009). Hence, if you want to minimize your health issues, plant based diet is the best option.
Plant based diet causes less greenhouse gas emissions as compared to meat based diet. According to an estimate of Food and Agriculture Organization of United Nations (FAO), about 65 percent of livestock industry’s emissions are due to Cattle which are raised for milk and beef. If we shift to plant based diet, there will certainly be less air pollution and global warming. In this way, risk of different diseases such as lung cancer and respiratory infections can be minimized.
Meat based diet takes large quantity of water in its production as compared to plant based diet. Moreover, it can harm water quality as animal manure often enters into nearby water bodies which in turn poses threat to human health and marine life. According to a report of World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) “Bending the Curve: The Restorative Power of Planet-Based Diets”, increasing plant based diet and reducing consumption of animal based diet could decrease water usage by approximately 8 percent in US and about 15 percent in China. Thus, when you opt for plant based diet, it reduces the risk of water shortage and contamination along with destruction of marine ecosystems.
As per the report of WWF, Plant based food require less land relative to animal agriculture. To create grass lands, often deforestation is practiced which results in soil erosion, global warming and loss of biodiversity and habitat. Consumption of plant source food leads to increase in the availability of land which can be used to restore natural ecosystems. Moreover, shifting to plant based diet provides with land for reforestation which will create a healthy environment for generations to come.
In conclusion with the growing requirement of food, there is a need to make sustainable diet choices. Along with protecting the environment, you have to focus on your health. Hence, to prevent chronic diseases, preserve natural resources and mitigate climate change, there is a need to shift from meat source food consumption to plant based diet. Making such dietary shifts would help us lead to a better future.