If you’ve read this far into this blog, chances are pretty good that you are already taking some steps to help the environment. Maybe you recycle, or compost food scraps, or use efficient light bulbs, or have a programmable thermostat, or a low-flow shower-head, or have a fuel-efficient car. Or maybe you do all of those things and more. Well, congratulations for whatever you are doing for the planet. It’s all good.
But you may not know that a plant-based diet is, by far, the single most effective thing you can do to help save the planet. Really. As U.S. meat consumption per person has more than doubled in the past 50 years, and environmental science has advanced, it has become apparent that eating animals is the major driving force (other than perhaps population growth) behind most categories of environmental damage now threatening the human future. That is the conclusion of organizations like the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Health Organization, the World Watch Institute, the USDA Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, and many others. And it is cost-effective to eat plant-based or vegetarian, or (at a minimum) to decrease your meat and dairy intake.
This blog is mostly about how to go plant-based, and I hope you find the recipes, substitutions, and shopping tips useful. But in this section, I discuss some of the why, in particular the impact of meat and dairy on global deforestation, water and energy usage, ocean degradation, and perhaps most profound and surprising to many people, climate change.
As a family, our journey to a meatless and dairy free diet started around 2004 primarily for these environmental reasons, rather than health or even ethical reasons. Since one’s diet is a pretty personal thing, we know that people do not want to be clobbered with facts to be moved toward change. But the facts do matter. So last year we hosted several community events where we prepared a “plant based feast” and shared practical ideas on how to make changes to diet, but also some of what we have been learning about the environment that I wanted to include here. Since each of us took different topics for our presentations, I include my family members’ thoughts, research and insights in mostly their own words. I hope you’ll explore them through the menu on the left. Or check out a one page summary from the Planet-Based Team of the 350.org chapter in San Diego