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How Your Diet Affects the Environment

What every person around the world has in common is the need to eat. In different countries, food may not be easily accessible to every individual, but for most of us in the United States, it’s a five-mile drive to reach any food market. Food is necessary to provide our bodies with energy, but our diet can affect the environment around us. Depending on your diet, you may be increasing carbon emissions and creating more waste that ends up in the ocean. 1


A plant-based diet is not only known for preventing chronic diseases, but it can also help with lowering emission levels and saving habitats that different species live in. Farming and caring for animals requires greater quantities of land, water, and energy to prepare for future consumption.  For example, majority of the amazon rainforest has been cleared to create cattle pastures, this affects the surrounding habitat and animals no longer can be supported by their environment. 2 As demand for meat increases, then a higher supply of both animals and resources is needed. Meat is a staple to the American diet, but can have major effects on your carbon footprint as seen in the chart below.

Source: Environmental Working Group


The foods that create the smallest carbon footprint include foods such as lentils, tofu, beans, tomatoes, and broccoli. Yet, the foods that create the highest emissions include different meats, such as beef and lamb. By following a plant-based diet, you can have positive person impact on the environment. Following a plant-based does not mean eliminating meat entirely, but it means to focus more on plant-based products to lower meat consumption. Just by eating one less burger a week, it’s like taking a car off the road for 320 miles or line-drying your clothes half the time throughout the year. Now imagine the impact if almost every person in the United States incorporated a plant-based diet, it would be like not driving 91 billion miles – or taking 7.6 million cars off the road. 3


Now that you have learned some information about why a plant-based diet can help save the environment, you may be wondering how you could start living the lifestyle. It may seem intimidating, but an easy way to start is by doing “meatless mondays”. Every Monday of the week, your meals should contain no meat, but your protein can come from things like soybeans, tempeh, lentils, and more. There are so many easy ways to let go of meat, that can easily be applied into anyone’s life.


Source: Lani Muelrath


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Gabriella Durand is a senior at Florida International University pursuing her Bachelor’s Degree in Dietetics and Nutrition. When not in class, she can be found at club meetings, participating in campus events, or hanging around campus studying with friends. Her goal is to become a Registered Dietitian, but her passions extend to art, fashion, makeup, and food.
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