The Benefits of Eating Plants for the Environment (inside and out)

By Ana Lewis

“Oh, I tried being a vegetarian, but it’s too hard.” This is a statement I have heard so many times I can’t even count. I am here to tell you:

  • It’s not that hard
  • It helps clean up the environment inside your body
  • It helps clean up the environment outside of your body

It’s not that hard

The biggest obstacle for many people is trying to eat at a restaurant. Thankfully, more restaurants are offering plant-based options for diners, so it is easier now than it used to be, but this is how I can enter any restaurant in the world and still get a meal.

  • Make it easier on yourself BEFORE you enter a restaurant. Download groovy apps to help you find plant-based-friendly restaurants. I use Vanilla Bean everywhere I go.
  • If you are at a restaurant that you didn’t choose, first scan the menu. Sometimes you can order directly from something that has a “V” next to it.
  • If nothing is on the menu that you want to eat, see if there is anything that you can easily alter, such as ordering a vegetarian item with no eggs or dairy (even in the dressing). (I have ordered even pizza this way!)
  • If you still have nothing that will work, go to the side dishes and/or appetizers. Many times you can get a hummus, delicious roasted veggies and even buffalo cauliflower off one of these menus, and craft yourself a meal out of that.
  • Most of all, don’t be afraid to speak out on your own behalf. You don’t have to tell a server your life story, you can simply say you don’t like something. “I don’t like cheese, can I order that veggie burrito without it?” Most servers and chefs won’t mind at all.
  • Worse case scenario, go to the grocery store, grab some fresh fruits, veggies and nuts, and eat before you eat. Yeah, many times I have had to eat before I eat. Takes the pressure off.

It helps clean up the environment inside your body

  • It’s not news when we state that humans who eat more plants live healthier lives. This has been well-documented in The China Study, by T. Colin Campbell, the most comprehensive study of nutrition ever conducted and the implications for long-term health.
  • The study of the Blue Zones, specifies cultures around the world where people have the most healthful longevity (90-100+ years old). The five blue zones are as follows: The Italian island of Sardinia; Okinawa, Japan; Loma Linda, California; Costa Rica’s isolated Nicoya Peninsula; and Ikaria, an isolated Greek island. It’s all about lifestyle in the blue zones, which includes lots of whole-foods, plant-based eating, movement and socializing with family and friends… and drinking wine (woohoo!).
  • The documentary Forks Over Knives showcases how whole-foods, plant-based eating helps you reverse disease in the body, naturally lose weight and change your entire life through lifestyle changes alone.

It helps clean up the environment outside of your body

  • Can I shoot straight on this? Cow burps. Ruminants’ burps account for 95% of their methane emissions, which contribute to the methane gas being released into the atmosphere.
  • The amount of water required to raise livestock takes it toll worldwide.
  • Plant-based eating conserves water.
  • Growing plants cleans the air. Through photosynthesis, they convert the carbon dioxide we exhale into fresh oxygen, and they can also remove toxins from the air we breathe.

Eating whole-plant-based foods is not only delicious, it’s better for you and the environment. Sometimes it seems overwhelming to consider it as a whole lifestyle change, but perhaps starting out small, with a one-day-per-week commitment to yourself. Our family has celebrated Meatless Mondays for years, and everyone chooses to participate.

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