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Plant-Based Eating for A Healthier World

Plant-Based Eating for A Healthier World

This month we’re focusing on the health of our bodies as well as the health of the planet. Our food choices can have a profound impact on the environment.

This week we’re talking about:

Plant-based diets!

In 2007 the average amount of meat consumed per person was 270 pounds!

The environmental impact of this quantity of meat is dramatic. To create just one quarter-pound hamburger takes:

  • 6.7 pounds of grains
  • 52.8 gallons of water
  • 74.5 square feet of land
  • 1,036 Btus in fossil fuel energy

Not only does livestock take a lot of resources to raise, slaughter, package, and distribute, but there is also a ton of resources going into growing the feed for livestock.

Almost 800 million people could be fed by the amount of grain that’s currently used for livestock. Water pollution, deforestation, and greenhouse gas emissions are all impacted by Americans’ meat consumption.

Vegetarian, pescatarian, vegan, flexitarian…

These are all just names for various styles of eating that focus on prioritizing plant-based foods over meat.

While cutting meat out of your diet completely may feel like too drastic a change for you, you can still make small steps toward consuming less meat.

#MeatlessMondays are trending, as consumers make an effort to go at least one day without meat. You can also reduce meat consumption by adding in beans or mushrooms into dishes that call for ground beef or turkey.

Adding a can or two of black beans and halving the amount of meat will still provide some of the flavor of meat, but will cut down on the saturated fats, and add more fiber to your meal.

If you have concerns over getting the right nutrients on a plant-based diet, here’s what you should know:

  1. Beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains and soy products are all good sources of plant-based protein.
  2. Kale, broccoli, bok choy, tofu (with calcium) and fortified soymilk are all good sources of calcium that don’t require dairy.
  3. Vitamin D can also be found in fortified non-dairy milks, orange juice, and frequently in enriched cereals.
  4. Combining vitamin C with iron-rich vegetables helps with absorption. Beans, dark leafy greens and whole grain, enriched breads will provide you with iron, and adding a little citrus to your day can help absorption.
  5. Vitamin B12 is usually obtained from animal products, but it can be found in foods like nutritional yeast (try it on popcorn!), soy milk, and some enriched cereals.

Well-balanced and varied foods will help ensure that a plant-based diet has all the nutrients you need.

What are your favorite vegetarian meals?

Let us know on the Sweet Life Wellness Facebook Page!

Please send us an email if you’d like a copy of my consumer guide on How to make Environmentally Friendly Food Choices at Kay@sweetlifewellness.com

Blog Author:Lauren Seat - Sweet Life Wellness Intern
Lauren Seat
Sweet Life Wellness Student Intern
Dietetics student at University of Maryland-College Park

References:
  1. Barclay E (2012) Meat Consumption. In: NPR.org. http://a.tiles.mapbox.com/v3/npr.MeatConsumption/page.html. Accessed 5 Apr 2017
  2. Caspero A (2016) 5 Myths about Building a Healthy Vegetarian Meal. In: www.eatright.org. http://www.eatright.org/resource/food/nutrition/vegetarian-and-special-diets/building-a-healthy-vegetarian-meal-myths-and-facts. Accessed 5 Apr 2017
  3. Scheer R, Moss D How Does Meat in the Diet Take an Environmental Toll? In: Scientific American. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/meat-and-environment/. Accessed 5 Apr 2017
  4. Wolfram T (2016) Food Sources of 5 Important Nutrients for Vegetarians. In: www.eatright.org. http://www.eatright.org/resource/food/nutrition/vegetarian-and-special-diets/food-sources-of-important-nutrients-for-vegetarians. Accessed 5 Apr 2017