In the midst of a growing concern over climate change, it is imperative that each one of us does his or her own bit to contribute effectively towards the prevention of global warming. Although most of us are quite aware of the many ways in which we can protect our environment, not many of us would be conversant with the enormous impact that our eating habits may have on climate change.
Food has a direct bearing on the environment and contrary to the belief that there is no connection between what we eat and our habitat, we would do well to remind ourselves that our eating habits have an immediate relation to and effect on the emission of greenhouse gases. In fact the need for a drastic change in eating habits has been listed at number 4 in a recent list of 100 best and well researched solutions for environmental protection.
*Global warming and eating habits*
Eating habits, as mentioned have a profound impact on global warming. It is strange but true that meat production, particularly, leads to as much greenhouse gas emissions as a power plant. For instance, it is estimated that rearing animals for meat production globally, would cause as much pollution as all cars, aeroplanes, trains and other forms of transportation put together.
Let us now consider and brace ourselves for some hard facts.
1. Cattle farming is chiefly responsible for the deforestation of 76% of the Amazon rainforests.
2. In the United States, 70% of the total amount of grain produced, is fed to farm animals. The same amount, however, would be enough to feed a much larger population.
3. To obtain one pound of animal protein we need to utilise about 12 times as much land, 13 times as much fossil fuel, and 15 times as much water as we need to produce one pound of soy protein.
4. Cattle farming and growing crops to feed cattle for meat production is now using a staggering 30% of the Earth’s land mass.
*Plant foods and heart disease*
A vegetarian diet helps in preventing heart disease. In fact, according to a recent British study, vegetarianism can reduce the chances of developing heart disease by almost 32%. Plant foods have less saturated fats and are rich in soluble fibers, unsaturated fats and phytochemicals. Therefore, vegetarian food accounts for a lower percentage of obesity. In fact, the National Institute of Health concluded that on an average, people who avoid meat, dairy, and eggs have a body mass index that is almost 20% lower than that of meat eaters. This translates into about 13 kgs of less weight in vegetarians vis-a vis non-vegetarians of similar height and age.
‘Veganism’ thus is the new swag and trend. A growing inclination towards vegetarianism is being noticed the world over. According to Pinterest, there was a rise of 336% in the word “veggies” in its comfort food searches last year. So not only does being a vegetarian has the extended benefit of improving our health, but it also contributes directly towards the well being of our ecosystem.
Quite simply, the more we switch to a vegetarian diet, the healthier we are likely to be and the greener will our Mother Earth be.