Choosing to be Vegan: How Eating Veg Helps Keep our World a Little Greener

I went vegan a few years ago, probably around 2015. I’m not going to lie, what got me interested in the first place was I heard that if you eat a plant based diet, your body will naturally maintain a certain body fat percent. Lowering your overall weight. I weigh less now than I did before going vegan, but it most likely has as much to do with my healthier lifestyle. More exercise and better portion control than going vegan. And thanks to going vegan, my eating habits and the quality of the foods I eat have greatly increased, which is a bonus.

Since changing my diet, I’ve become much more interested in how the food I’m eating, gets to my plate, and the ramifications of how it’s produced, effects our environment. I’ve kept a vegetable garden on and off for about 15 years, and while it helps to keep the food miles down on some of the veg I eat, I first fell in love with gardening when I was a child, watching my dad tend to his small plot in a local community garden. Running through the rows of flowering vegetable plants, that my father and his neighbors were growing on cool summer nights seems idealick now, but I imagine if I could somehow revisit those gardens of my mind today, my memories would not disappoint.

There was something about so much diversity in such a small space that made everything feel so rich and alive, vibrant. It brings to mind the ways we used to farm our crops, the way Monticello may have looked in its prime.

I’ve also recently viewed a few documentaries on farming that got my imagination working, but also sparked some fear as well. The first doc was “The Biggest Little Farm”, and it was about a couple’s vision to start a sustainable, diverse farm using organic farming practices and methods. The second was “Kiss the Ground”, and it talked about the need to change the ways we farm in order to help reverse the effects of climate change by fixing Co2 back into the soil, and reversing the desertification that is currently happening, due to the monocultures we’ve been cultivating in big agriculture.

The premise, or main take away from ” Kiss the Ground” is that there are only 60 harvests left, using the methods and farming the crops we’ve been utilizing, i.e., corn, soy and wheat, before we turn the once fertile soils of our country’s, and others in the global community’s, into desolate piles of unworkable dirt. Spark fear here.

Now the food system has been broken for a long time, that’s nothing new. With the crops we’re growing, and the health and environmental consequences they are causing, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes with the over consumption of processed monoculture crops, and the deforestation of the rainforest in the Amazon for farm land, directly contributing to the increase of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere, it’s easy to see that we’re doing something questionable at best.

The outlook seems pretty bleak, and with President Trump pulling America out of The Paris Agreement, it seems as though we’re collectively taking a slow step back when we should be focused on moving forward, toward a common goal for the benefit of our collective future. So where do we go from here?

It seems the most pressing matter, according to “Kiss the Ground” is repairing our soil. With roughly 60 years left before we’re unable to feed ourselves the ways we have been, or at all, that just seems like a no brainer. And if we switch to organic farming practices, while diversifying our crops, we’ll not only be working to solve some of our environmental issues by fixing more Co2 back in the soil, but we’ll also have the option to be eating healthier.

If we focus on smaller scale farming with more diverse crops, woven in and throughout our communities, we can eat in season, with fresher produce, reduce food miles and maybe even close some of the gaps in the food deserts we’ve created. The government already subsidizes commercial farming, so it doesn’t take a great leap of imagination to take some of the economic principles we’re already practicing and apply them to more localized and smaller setting, and maybe even create a surplus, and with it food security for our communities.

That’s a lot to take on as an individual, or even as a modest sized community. For something like the plan above to work, we’d need a lot of support, locally and from the global community. But there are some things that we can do as individuals that will help move us in the healing direction. Voting with your dollars is a good place to start.

When food shopping, opt for foods and goods produced locally, and grown organically, as opposed to buying larger brand names that have been most likely grown unsustainably and shipped in from halfway around the globe. Shop at farmers markets and buy more fruits and vegetables, dried beans and grains, whole foods, instead of processed monoculture foods like soy, wheat and corn. And that’s not to say that all soy, wheat and corn are bad. There are few things I enjoy more than a fresh ear of corn in the summer, with a little salt and margarine. The important thing to keep in mind when buying these products is how they were farmed.

And it’s cheaper than you think. I live in a suburb of Boston, so I know about the high cost of living when it comes to the basics. But even living in Massachusetts, if you’re buying mostly vegetables and grains, it’s not difficult to keep your grocery budget to a reasonable price (I aim for 300$ a month but usually go over by about 50$) and that’s with buying organic and local options when possible. You don’t have to go vegan, though you would save a bunch of money. Try having one or two dinners a week without meat. You may be surprised with how much you enjoy the break from the usual. Check out Minimalist Baker for some plant based options.

This is where I’ll leave you reader. Nothing I’ve said here hasn’t been said before, but I hope it helps you to maybe think about our collective situation with a little more agency, to get involved in the ways your able to help us heal and move forward towards a healthier future. I’ll be posting more on this subject too, as I feel living sustainably is definitely linked to a better quality of life and peace of mind. Peace, and thanks for reading :]

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