Although there is a large movement towards plant-based, I still feel that there are too many people not doing enough to protecting the environment that we depend on for food and water. We need to start becoming interested in learning where food comes from, how it is grown and produced, and what this is doing to our environment. Food production systems and diets play a crucial role in the issue of sustainability.
Sustainability is the ability to maintain the qualities that are important in the environment. We cannot have a secure food supply unless that food supply is sustainable. Food sustainability is essential so that that our rapidly expanding population will have enough food to eat and be able to get high quality, nutritious foods. Even though currently a billion people are getting enough food, about 7 billion people are eating a diet that is poor in quality.
Food production places a huge demand on our natural resources. Meat production, and especially beef production, contributes significantly to the global greenhouse gas emissions (almost half caused by livestock production alone). This is what is driving our climate change. Raising and transporting livestock also requires more food, water, land and energy than plants.
Working toward a sustainable food supply can only be achieved if there is a shift in the way our food is produced. We can help with this by choosing a diet that includes more fruit and vegetables and less processed foods and meat. If you look at the US, vegetables, fruits, and nuts account for only about 2% of crop land, and only 10% of the corn and soybean grains grown are for consumption by humans. As individuals, if we ALL shift our diets towards more vegetables and fruit there will be a shift in the food production (it’s all about supply and demand), which will ultimately help to sustain the planet.
What can we do?
You have more power than you realize! If we all do our part, as a combined force we will be able to make a change in the environment. Not only will it help the environment, but it will also help your health and waistline! Here are a couple of ways that you can play your part:
The Healthy Eating Plate was created to incorporate sustainable eating habits into the USDA’s My Plate. When we focus our meals around vegetables and fruit the environment will benefit, so the Healthy Eating Plate suggests filling half your plate with vegetables and fruits. The idea is to shift your eating towards a more plant-based way of eating.
We can all take action on all these issues because every step in the right direction helps, no matter how small. Join in and help create a food and farming system that is suitable for the future.