Is a plant diet really better for the environment?
The reports about global warming over the last couple of weeks have been scary and horrific and yes, we need to do something about it. All of us. The one thing that has made me think and question is not the reports that we need to eat a more plant-based diet and less meat, but what is the impact of how the beef is farmed and what is the quality of the plants. So for example, not eating beef all the time, I’m fully on board with. I am a meat eater but do my best to only buy organic, so it has been ethically and sustainably farmed. This reduces the negative carbon footprint impact of the cattle on the planet. I eat it maybe a few times a month. Overall, I eat a very plant-based diet, once again organic for the above reasons.
What makes me worry about everyone eating a plant-based diet and the focus for example on eating more tofu and soy products is how the soy was farmed. Non-organic soy is so genetically modified and sprayed and the impact that has on the insects and environment it huge. (And whilst the farmers might be using fewer pesticides on the GM soy crop, they are now using more herbicides which still cause so much damage to the environment because they kill insects and animals higher up the food chain, pollute the soil and water). Also, also the palm oil we use more and more because it’s cheap has meant vast amounts of the rainforest has been cut down. Basically most processed foods and lot of dairy alternatives that contain vegetable oil contain palm oil unless it says otherwise.
We need to educate on what and where the plants have come from, and which we should be eating. Those that don’t mean that all the bees die. And those that don’t mean more trees will be cut down to make room to farm them. And buying more things that are locally grown and in season. Don’t buy so much that is flown over from the other side of the world day in day out.
I’m absolutely not saying we shouldn’t eat more vegetables, nuts and seeds, or things from other parts of the world. What I am saying is look at where they are from. How they were grown. What the pesticides and/or herbicides have done. Essentially I suppose I’m saying chose organic, sustainable and wild when you can. I also know this always financially viable for everyone either. It’s difficult. Modern farming and chain supermarkets have made food too cheap, so we baulk at paying what we really should. We have become a throwaway culture. Ignore on most things, the use by date. Smell the food. Look at it. If it smells fine and isn’t mouldy, eat it! Don’t throw it away.
And remember. What you eat has an impact on your health too. There is nothing nutritious in a meal that cost £1.99. It’s outrageous that fast food chains can sell ‘food’ for that small cost. This has probably become a bit ranty. It upsets me so much that people are advertised to in a way to make them think that meal options that cost less than £2 are a good choice.
So back to the planet. Do a bit of research. Find local, small suppliers who have grown vegetables themselves without loads of toxic chemicals or who sell eggs from their chickens at home. Easier in the country I know. Or invest that bit more in an organic delivery or buy organic food one week a month instead of going to the pub and buying 2 bottles of wine. Or just buy some organic meat once a month and really enjoy it. Or only buy organic dairy from now on. I am going to do a plug here for Abel & Cole. One of the reasons I order with them is that they don’t sell anything that gets flown over. Anything they sell that has come from another country comes to the UK on ships. They also pay their farmers properly and if the food isn’t organic when it comes to meat/fish/eggs it’s free range and/or wild/sustainable.
If everyone makes small changes and buys food that doesn’t kill the insects, poison the soil and the water supply or negatively impact on the rainforest, and that means farmers are paid properly; the impact overall with be huge.
Just take a moment in the supermarket and think about what you are about to buy, rather than just throwing things in the trolley regardless. Also, as always, I’m not perfect. I just do the best I can each day for my health and the environment and hope to encourage you to do the same.