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The Sustainability of a Plant Based Diet

Recent research has backed up anecdotal claims that a vegetarian/vegan diet is better for your health than one based around the consumption of meat. However just as importantly are the benefits of a plant-based diet on the health of the environment: the important sustainability factor.

Eating vegetarian or vegan not only may improve your personal health but it plays a major role in determining the future of our planet. More and more people are coming to realise the destructiveness to our planet of meat-based diets with the popularity of vegan/vegetarian diets an indication of this heightened awareness.

Making our food sustainable is a key component of being good stewards of this planet; that is leaving a liveable planet for our children and grandchildren. Combined with climate change, the sustainability of our diet may be the most important ecological question of our time.

Eating a plant-based diet means you bypass the environmental destructiveness of eating meat.

Some comparisons:

Plant based vs livestock. Many people are now becoming aware that the amount of space, water and feed that it takes to raise livestock is taking a huge environmental toll. Conversely plant based foods needs far less of these to be able to grow to maturity.

Degradation of land. The Earth’s ecosystem is always in a delicate balance. Upset that balance and you create a destructive environmental domino effect with catastrophic results for sustainability. Land degradation is a case in point with massive herds of livestock upsetting the delicate ecosystems of the planet.

Greenhouse gas emissions. At a time when the subject of climate change has become such an important environment question, the difference in emissions between a plant-based diet and that based around meat are striking. According to a 2006 UN Food and Agriculture (FAO) report, the livestock industry (including poultry) contributed an astonishing 18 percent of global greenhouse gases. One of the key arguments in favour of eating a plant-based diet is that it will reduce this footprint. This is a topic we expanded on in our previous blog.

Health benefits:

Heart health. It’s possible to reduce the chances of getting heart disease by switching to a plant-based diet. By doing so you may help reduce high blood pressure and other associated diseases associated with poor heart health. Combined with a healthy lifestyle and plenty of exercise, a vegan diet has been shown to improve cardiovascular health in many people.

Reduce cancer risk. Can a plant-based diet help reduce the risk of cancer? Intriguing evidence uncovered by California’s Loma Linda University suggests this may be the case. The study of the dietary habits of over 70,000 Seventh Day Adventists found that those who consumed a vegetarian or vegan diet were 22 percent less likely to contract colorectal cancer than those who ate meat.

Lower blood sugar. Type 2 Diabetes has become the scourge of the Western world. The massive intake of processed foods and sugar now so prevalent in our diet, has lead to an epidemic of obesity, which in turn has resulted in an explosion of this disease. However a plant-based diet, while not curing diabetes, may help in avoiding and managing diabetes. This is because weight loss (see above) is the key to better management and a vegetarian diet, in reducing harmful fats, may help in reducing weight.

A plant-based diet therefore is the passport to good personal and environmental health and the basis of sustainability of the earth, according to an increasing number of scientific studies.


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