All right foodies, it’s time to talk about the elephant in the room: we need to eat less meat. It’s no secret that adopting a vegetarian diet can have numerous benefits to your health (including lower cholesterol, decreased risk for heart disease and cancer AND better moods), but did you know that eating a plant-based diet is much better for our planet as well? In addition to causing mass deforestation, pollution and contamination of water sources, livestock farming also accounts for 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions (that’s more than transportation!). Growing fruits and vegetables is also a more efficient use of resources than livestock – it takes the same amount of land resources to feed 16-20 vegetarians as it does a single meat eater!
What’s one of the easiest ways to cut down your carbon footprint? Go Veg!
We know that adopting changes to your diet can be a little intimidating, so we’ve put together these five helpful tips for you to keep in mind as you begin your plant-based journey.
STICK TO ORGANIC AND NON-GMO FOODS.
While it’s well known that organic and non-GMO foods are better for our bodies, they have numerous environmental benefits as well. Organic farming enriches our soil, increases biodiversity, keeps toxic fertilizers and pesticides out of water sources and can even slow global warming by reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the air.(8)
BUY LOCAL PRODUCE!
In addition to supporting your local farmers and economy, buying local also cuts down drastically on transportation costs! Find a farmer’s market (or small community grocery store) near you and purchase seasonal, organic produce. Buying straight from the source ensures that your fruits and veggies are fresh and haven’t been frozen. If you have the space, grow your own food! Can’t find a product grown locally in your area? Purchase fair trade and organic alternatives (like Alter Eco’s fair trade quinoa!)! While fair trade certified companies are typically known for their advocacy for fair wages and ethical working conditions, many are deeply committed to protecting the environment as well(7). Do some research and support companies that meet rigorous environmental standards.
HAVE FUN COOKING!
It’s great when you find a great meatless dish at your favorite restaurant, but the only way to fully know what’s going into your meal is to make it yourself. If you’re new to cooking and don’t know where to start sign up for a vegetarian cooking class with a friend or family member! Don’t be afraid to experiment with different foods and flavors and you might just find your new favorite go-to dish (check out our plant-based recipes below)!
PLAN YOUR WEEKLY MEALS AHEAD OF TIME.
This is an important part of adopting any new diet! Avoid last-minute decisions by creating a weekly meal schedule to make sure you’re diversifying your diet and getting all the protein that you need (the recommended dosage is 40-60 grams of protein per day, depending on your body size).
ALWAYS READ THE INGREDIENTS AND NUTRITION FACTS!
Some products like to sneak in hidden animal products that could compromise your diet. Other products compensate with an unhealthy dose of sugar. When in doubt, speak to a professional!