How a Flexitarian Diet Could Be the Key to Saving the Planet
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Your food choices might seem like they could only affect a limited number of things — primarily you and the people you eat with. But your diet has a much larger sphere of influence than you’d think. What you whip up for lunch could even contribute to the earth’s future.
Maybe you’ve tried going vegan, vegetarian or pescatarian before, but you didn’t see the benefit of it. Or perhaps you don’t know exactly how an ecosystem could respond based on how you snack. Find out how the environment can change for the better based on a flexitarian diet, and discover a simple way to start eating responsibly.
Meat-Heavy Lifestyles and the Environment
America is notorious for consuming large amounts of red meat, and the pattern of meat-prominent diets could have serious consequences. According to a 2018 study based on current trends, worldwide food demands by 2050 could become too taxing for the planet to safely function and act as a sufficient home for humans.
A substantial consideration in the earth’s state is climate change, and greenhouse-gas emissions are a major factor. Animals in the food system produce these gases through manure and rumination, and the meat and dairy industry passed the fossil fuel industry as the top polluter in the world in 2018.The beef industry is responsible for increased levels of methane, and the process of feeding cows generates emissions too. Even the amount of water that food industry animals have to consume is higher than what many crops need to grow. Other meat sources, like pigs, chickens and sheep, take more resources than vegetables, legumes and fruits to cultivate.
Clearly, meat production requires high levels of environmental resources, pollutes the world and contributes fewer useful products than plant production. A shift toward sustainable food options could reduce greenhouse gas emissions and set the earth on a beneficial track.
Meat-Based Diets and Personal Health
Aside from the environment, the impacts of meat on a person’s diet are concerning, mostly due to the level of saturated fats in red meat. Eating foods high in saturated fats is linked to heart disease and high cholesterol. There’s also the potential for a higher risk of diabetes and some kinds of cancer with regularly meat-heavy meals.
However, fruits, nuts, vegetables and grains are a natural solution to promote wellness. With unsaturated fats and natural sugars, a plant-based diet is beneficial for your body. Reducing meat intake and increasing plant consumption can help you in the long run.
What Is a Flexitarian?
If you don’t think you’re interested in going full-fledged vegetarian or vegan, that’s okay. Flexitarianism can improve the environment without restricting your eating habits too much. Essentially, the diet means you can be a flexible vegetarian. A flexitarian diet is a manageable way for anyone to lessen their diet’s impact on the environment. Many types of meat can provide iron, protein, nutrients and vitamins, and some feel that their diets are incomplete without meat for these benefits. Occasionally eating meat can make up for any drawback.
This style of diet is becoming popular because it promotes personal choice and aids people when they’re eating out. Due to its customizable nature, the transition into flexitarianism isn’t strenuous.
The central principle of this diet is to approach your eating with the goal to eat less meat. But the flexibility allows you more freedom and accommodates several kinds of lifestyles. Whether you have an on-the-go career or a laidback schedule, you can set your own degree of commitment. It’s a simple step to caring for the environment through your food choices, and it could improve the planet’s well-being.
How to Become a Flexitarian
To begin a flexitarian diet, decide your level of involvement and establish a plan to adjust your eating. A basic start is to map out your meals for the next week and pick a few days that can be meatless. Or you can cut down on your meat portions over the course of the next few weeks. Intentionally select alternate foods that are high in protein, like beans or imitation meat. You might be surprised by the meat substitute choices available.
A helpful way to introduce vegetables and fruit into your day is to alter your go-to recipes. If you fix a hamburger for lunch every other day, opt for a bean burger instead. Gradually alter your meals to feature more plant-based foods. With the wide variety of vegetarian recipes at your disposal online, you can explore creative options as you go.
Although you’re reducing the level of saturated fats in your meals, healthy fats from avocados and nuts can enhance your plant-based meals. Cacao nibs are also a tasty treat with natural fat and antioxidants, which is especially appealing to dark chocolate lovers.
Protect the Planet
Simple changes to your diet can contribute to the planet’s health, but other choices you make can influence the environment too. Discover new ways to maintain your home and its future, and use your voice to inform others about green practices and responsible living.
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About the author
Starting from an early age, Jane Marsh loved all animals and became a budding environmentalist. Now, Jane works as the Editor-in-Chief of Environment.co where she covers topics related to climate policy, renewable energy, the food industry, and more.