How Eating Healthier Can Keep the Planet a Little Greener

How Eating Healthier Can Keep the Planet a Little Greener

I went vegan a few years ago, probably around 2015. I’m a little embarrassed to admit it, but what got me interested in this lifestyle was hearing 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 this has more to do with my healthier lifestyle. More exercise and better portion control than I had before going vegan. But thanks to my vegan diet, my eating habits and the quality of the foods I’m eating have greatly increased. But also and just as important is, eating healthier helps to keep the planet a little greener.

Think Greener Grow Your Own

Since changing my diet I’ve become much more interested in how the food I’m eating gets to my plate. Also the ramifications of how it’s produced and how it 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. I used to watch my dad tend to his small plot in a local community garden. Running through the rows of flowers and vegetables that my father and his neighbors were growing on cool summer nights seems idyllic to me now. But I imagine if I could somehow revisit those gardens from my past 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 Jefferson’s Monticello may have looked in its prime. This is what I think of when I say eating healthier to keep the planet a little greener. Healthy and alive.

Some Big Problems

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. The second was “Kiss the Ground”. 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 hopefully this would reverse 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 our current methods and crops we’ve been utilizing. I.e. corn, soy and wheat, before we turn the once fertile soils of our country and others, into desolate piles of unworkable dirt. Spark fear here.

Health and Environmental Concerns

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 carry, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and be paralyzed by its scale. Health consequences such as obesity and type 2 diabetes with the over consumption of processed monoculture crops are scary enough. But add the deforestation of the rainforest in the Amazon for farm land and how it directly contribute to the increase of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere and we have a full blown crisis on our hands. It’s easy to see that we’re doing something questionable at best and self destructive at worst.

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?

Some Small Solutions

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 maybe, this 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. Helping to address some of our health concerns along the way and eating healthier while keeping our planet greener.

Locally Grown Not Mass Produced

If we focus on smaller scale farming with more diversified 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. 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 a healing direction. Voting with your dollars is a good place to start.

Starting at the Grocery Store

While 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 far away places. 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 or unsustainable. 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 your produce is how they were farmed.

Small Price to Pay

And it’s cheaper than you think too. 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 about 300$ a month though usually I 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. Meatless Mondays has gained some traction lately that you may have heard about. You may be surprised with how much you enjoy the break from the usual meat and potatoes. Check out Minimalist Baker for some plant based options to supplement your weekly meal plan.

Her recipes are some of the best I’ve had. I used to work with a woman, Doma, who was from Bhutan. She used to make dishes that were Northern Indian inspired in flavor, while cooking Mexican and Asian cuisine. Dana from the Minimalist Baker has some of the best recipes I’ve had since working with Doma. Dana’s curries are especially delicious. Here’s one of my favorites of hers, vegan chana masala.

Eating Healthier to Keep the Planet a Little Greener

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 that you’re able to, in order 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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