You may have heard the adage, “We don’t inherit the Earth from our ancestors. We borrow it from our children.”
I’d put a spin on that, considering we’re the first generation to live significantly longer, into triple-digits. All love to the kids and thanks to climate change, we’re on borrowed time ourselves. We can make a collective impact in the fight against global warming by changing our individual behaviors.
While we’re at it, why not double-dip and support a longer healthspan by getting serious about a better diet? It turns out the two go together like peanut butter and dark chocolate (my favorite plant-based combo… hmm, better work on that).
All we have to do is stop wasting food and eat less meat.
The Beef With Meat
According to food systems and health scholar Michael Clark, putting yourself on a diet cuts carbs (as in carbon emissions) for the planet, too. His research aligns healthy eating with lower environmental impacts:
The same dietary transitions that would lower incidences of noncommunicable diseases would also help meet environmental sustainability targets.
Topping the worst foods list for Earth and us is meat, especially beef. Whether you eat it burnt to a crisp or bloody as hell, processed or fresh, beef is linked to life-threatening diseases, including cancer and heart disease.
Just as consuming a lot of red meat clogs your arteries, cows’ methane gas emissions congest our atmosphere. Cattle account for two-thirds of livestock’s greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to other environmental ills like deforestation, freshwater depletion, and biodiversity erosion.
Now, this doesn’t mean going vegan is the only option. For both your diet and the sake of the planet, experts recommend simply cutting back on your meat consumption (by about 40%) and instead eat more beans, fresh fruit, and vegetables.
Don’t be a Wasteoid
The other best way to help mitigate climate change is to cut down on your food waste. The amount of perfectly good food we toss every year is staggering: one-third of post-harvest goods are chucked, making it the #1 item in landfills. And decomposing food releases methane gas, giving the cows a run for their money.
Speaking of spoiled food, keep in mind that things don’t go bad as quickly as you think. Research shows most Americans misread labels; most expiration dates are about freshness, not food safety. Unless there’s evidence of spoilage (i.e., visible mold, a foul smell), chances are it’s OK to eat.
So, how does lessening your waste tighten your waistline? One word: portions.
Buy less, and consume what you buy. It’s that simple. After all, you are what you eat, and Mother Nature would like us all to make better choices.
Your Diet Is Cooking the Planet (The Atlantic)