By Aolani Peiper, Real Food Challenge Team Coordinator
The average meat eater holds a stigma about the lifestyle of a vegetarian or a vegan. We should look past the stereotype of animal rights activists and vegetarians/vegans as one in the same. A plant forward diet has been proven to be not only better for your health but for the environment as well. I am not saying you have to put down the bacon or chicken forever, but maybe it’s worth it to eat less and, instead, eat more plant based. I am not a vegetarian or a vegan, but I do eat less meat throughout the week for my health, to reduce my carbon footprint, and save money. I am the coordinator of the Real Food Challenge team and as an initiative the team wants to educate people about a plant based diet and empower students and even the wider Durango community about how to do this!
“I am not a vegetarian or a vegan, but I do eat less meat throughout the week for my health, to reduce my carbon footprint, and save money.”
There is research to support that a plant based diet is good for your health; eating more vegetables, fruit, and whole grains can reduce heart disease and stroke. Limiting meat in the diet can limit your risk to cancer as well as to fight diabetes and curb obesity. Most meat in the US is processed, poorly raised, and loaded with cholesterol and fat. Eating a plant centered diet will leave your body thanking you.
I have noticed that people think there may not be as many options or that eating this way is expensive. When you reduce the amount of meat you’re consuming, you’re saving your wallet. It’s easy to save money with more meatless meals and if you do want to consume meat it’s easier to spend money that you saved on better quality meat like humane and organic options; which is also better for your health and the environment.
An added benefit of plant forward diet is the love you show towards the environment. Recycling isn’t the only way you can help the environment in a large way. Did you know that the water required to farm livestock is much greater than that of vegetables and grains? 1,850 gallons alone are needed for one pound of beef where 39 gallons are needed to produce one pound of vegetables. By eating less meat you can reduce water usage. Eating less meat can also reduce your carbon footprint; “Studies show that meat production produces significantly more greenhouse gases than vegetables, including carbon dioxide, Methane and Nitrous Oxide – the three main contributing sources of greenhouse gas” (meatless monday).
Now go out there and eat more real food! You don’t have to be vegetarian to be food conscious. Meatlessmonday.com has many resources and recipes to help you and guide you towards a plant based diet. There are also documentaries such as “Forks Over Knives” and “What The Health” that prove anyone can can eat a plant based diet and what it really does for you and the environment. Keep an eye out for events during the rest of the semester that speak to this theme of plant forward diets and humanely raised animals hosted by the Real Food Challenge Team. We will also be showing the documentary “What The Health” and look forward to seeing everyone there. Look for more details to come on our Facebook page.
If you want to know how you can eat a plant forward diet but don’t know where to start contact me: Aolani Peiper firstname.lastname@example.org