For more and more of us, the looming threats of rising global temperatures, expanding landfills, and increasingly polluted waters have at least prompted us to stop and think about how our own habits are affecting the planet. While that has inspired many people to begin overhauling their usual ways of life, others remain cynical. “How much can I really do,” they demand, “when corporations are the biggest contributors to the global environmental crises?”
But in fact, you can don your own superhero cape with one simple habit: eating more plants, and eating less meat.
Why is a plant-based diet better for the world? Well, first, plants are good for people. They are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, water, and other substances that benefit our health and keep away chronic diseases, which overall end up costing the nation not billions, but trillions of dollars in healthcare expenses.
Second, plants are good for resources. You may picture plants as the major perpetrators of water waste, but in reality, the production of animal products uses several times more water per pound of yield than any crop product does. Additionally, the Water Footprint Network discusses that it is more water efficient to obtain nutrients (including calories) from crop products than from animal products, and the World Resources Institute suggests that, overall, animal-based foods are more resource intensive than plant-based foods.
Lastly, plants are great for the environment, of course! Much research has revealed that plant-based diets on a large scale would have a positive domino effect on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Feeding and raising livestock and processing, shipping, and marketing meat products produce an unbelievable amount of greenhouse gases on their own, while resulting deforestation and packaging waste all contribute additional tolls on the environment.