Healthy Food & Life: How to Eat a Clean Diet for the Environment
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How to Eat a Clean Diet for the Environment

Earth and environment
Not only can you become healthier, but you can also help heal the environment by changing what you eat every day. Eating a clean diet for the environment is a winning combination for both you and the environment. If everyone one on the planet took a few simple steps with the way you eat, we could all go a long way to help stop further damage to the environmental damage that is being done to the Earth.

How can I help stop climate change? The best way to help is to change what you eat. Just by reducing or better yet, eliminating meat from your diet can help a great deal. The raising of cattle for food causes rain forests to be cut down to make room for crops to feed these animals. Buying organic food and locally grown food will also help.

Limit Meat for a Clean Diet


Raising animals for humans to eat uses a lot of resources from the planet and raising animals for humans to eat also causing an immense amount of pollution. The first and foremost way to eat a clean diet for the environment is to limit the amount of animal food you eat.

This not only includes beef, pork, and chicken but also dairy foods like cheese. Eating a diet that is high in animal products takes up a lot of resources like land and water and causes an incredible amount of pollution.

All over the world, farmers are cutting down forests just to make more land for growing feed for animals. Currently, 26% of the planet's surface (ice-free surface) is used for livestock grazing and 33% of the cropland is used for animal feed. In Brazil alone, 70% of the deforested land is used for grazing and animal feed.

On a global basis, 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions can be attributed to the livestock industry. In the United States, livestock production is responsible for the following:
  • 55% of the erosion
  • 50% of the antibiotics consumed
  • 37% of all applied pesticides

One source claims that to feed one omnivorous human, it takes 3 acres of land. To feed one vegan or person that eats no animal foods takes one-sixth of an acre. This is not sustainable at the current rate that meat consumption is increasing [1].

Replacing animal foods with plant foods will help heal the environment and the planet. You can get just as much protein from plant foods as you can from meat and a cleaner form of protein, free of hormones and antibiotics. Not only will you get plenty of protein, but you will also get healthy fiber and antioxidants, which you cannot get from meat. This is what eating a clean diet is all about. 

 

Water Use and Pollution from Feedlots


The use of water for animal products is immense. For example, according to the California Farm Bureau Federation, it takes 48 gallons of water to make one glass of milk. From start to finish, the cows drink water, they are bathed in water, the food they eat has to be watered, and the making of the milk all takes water.

Cattle for beef takes a great deal of water, The Water Education Foundation in Sacramento, CA, in a study found that for every pound of meat (specifically beef) you don’t eat, you are saving the planet 2,464 gallons of water, that is how much water it takes to make one pound of beef.

Another problem is cattle grazing along streams and creeks. As the cattle move about the banks of creeks, they are constantly eroding and damaging the banks of streams and creeks. This erosion causes further problems for waterways.

Pollution caused by raising animals for food is also a major problem from polluting the water and the air. If you want to see this first hand for yourself, just go to a hog farm, walk around, look around and smell the air. Meat isn’t just that hamburger or steak; it’s the bacon or ham for breakfast, that bacon cheeseburger. It isn’t only hogs but also the cattle and poultry farms that pollute.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, between 1990 and 1997, over 200 manure spills occurred from US animal farms have killed more than a billion fish. Animal feedlots pollute nearby water wells and water sources with nitrates, which causes birth defects. 

In February 2015, a spill of cattle waste in Wisconsin sent between 30,000 and 120,000 gallons of manure into a local creek. This is just one example of the environmental destruction that raising animals for our food can cause.

On these feedlots, they have what is called manure lagoons and spray fields where they spray the manure. These areas also pollute the air and water with ammonia, methane and hydrogen sulfide. 

When you limit or eliminate animal foods from your daily diet, you are helping the environment and the planet. This is what eating a clean diet for the environment is all about.

Whole Grains versus Refined Grains


It takes more water to make white refined rice than it does whole grain brown rice. The refining process of turning whole wheat and whole grain products into white refined products uses more water and energy (oil, coal or natural gas).

Making sure you eat more whole grains not only helps the environment but will greatly help your health. Whole grains have more fiber, vitamins, minerals, and nutrients than refined grains do. This is another way that eating a clean diet will also help the environment. 

Buy Organic Food and Locally Grown Produce


Growing vegetables and fruit also pollutes. You can limit the environmental damage by buying produce grown with the least amount of pesticides and herbicides and fertilizers.

Chemical herbicides are sprayed on crops to control weeds just as chemical fertilizers are spread to help crops grow and chemical pesticides are sprayed to control bugs. Many of these herbicides are known as obesogens, that can disrupt our hormones and our good gut bacteria. On an organic farm, these chemicals aren’t sprayed, natural versions of them are used and planting methods are employed to help with these problems.

Farms pollute the same water and ground and air just as the animal farms and feedlots do. All of these sprays go into the air and runoff into the water, which a lot of feeds into the oceans. So it’s not just our creeks, streams and rivers that are being polluted, it’s also the world’s oceans with all of these pollutants.

All of these pollutants hurt the land, water and air, but also hurts humans. More and more asthma related problems are being reported and then there is the problem of birth defects and a host of other medical problems that all of this chemical pollution can cause. 

All of these chemicals used to grow feed for animals and vegetables for us is certainly hurting the soil. Studies have found that these chemicals are causing the loss of nutrients in our soil, which means the vegetables and grains grown in the soil also contains less nutrients.

In all fairness to pesticides, over the years they have saved lives from diseases all over the world, malaria for one. But the constant and overuse of these pesticides have built up pesticide resistant bugs, so now the bugs eating the food plants are getting harder to kill. 

In recent studies, it has been found that with the use of all these chemicals that the plant foods we eat today don’t have nearly the vitamin and nutrient content they once did. 

Supporting your local farmers is a great way to eat a clean diet, helps the environment and supports your local economy. A farmers market usually has the freshest vegetables and fruits and there is not a lot of oil used in transporting from farm to farmers market. 


Grow Your Own Vegetables for the Environment


Growing your own food is easy and it doesn’t take a lot of room. You can do this without the use of any pesticides or herbicides. You can grow enough food to be able to cook and freeze to last through the winter, tomatoes and squash of all kinds will give you more than you might want.

Your own garden can be as simple as growing vegetables in pots and containers if you don’t have a yard. You might even be lucky enough to have an apple or peach tree in your yard, if not, you can plant one or more fruit trees. Growing peaches and apples can be done in almost any climate in the U.S.

Growing your own food eliminates all the chemicals that a farm would be using for the food you might buy.

Composting, by making your own compost you use many things you would normally be throwing out into the city dump.

A clean diet for the environment would include:

  • Cutting down on the meat you eat or switching to a plant based diet.
  • Buying organic vegetables and fruits when possible.
  • Buy whole grains instead of refined.
  • Buying from your local organic farmers to keep them in business and lower the amount of oil it takes to transport the food to you.
  • Grow your own food.
  • Have a compost pile, which cuts down on the amount of garbage you throw out.
  • Recycle. All of the cans and bottles that your food comes in are recyclable and many cities provide free recycling pickup once or twice a month.

Eating a Clean Diet for the Environment Conclusion


It is not hard to eat a clean diet that helps the environment and our planet. Just small changes in your daily diet and can go a long way towards helping the environment heal. Eating a clean diet for the environment can mean small changes like eating less meat, dairy products and buy more locally grown produce. 

You can make an even larger impact by switching to a plant based diet that eliminates all animal foods from your diet. You can get all of the nutrients you need from a plant-based diet. You will be helping the health of the planet and your own health at the same time. A plant based diet is the epitome of how to eat a clean diet for the environment. 

About the Author

Sam Montana is a certified Food Over Medicine instructor from the Wellness Forum Health Center and certified in optimal nutrition from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Copyright © Sam Montana 2008-2018

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