Perhaps you dabble in plant-based eating a few days a week or you’ve gotten your family on board for “meatless” Mondays. Maybe plant-based is your way of life! Or maybe, you see plant-based and run the other way. As the name suggests, plant-based eating focuses on foods primarily from plants. How ever you do plant-based is your own but with Earth Day’s arrival, the benefits of plant-based eating and living can’t go unmentioned.
Plant-based is a big part of our Aloha, it was one of the main drivers behind us getting our B-Corp Certification. But for those plant-based rookies out there, maybe this will be the push you need to give plant-based a try.
One of the largest energy consumers worldwide is livestock production. While a drive-thru hamburger might seem like a quick and convenient option, it’s far from it when you think about all of the energy and resources that went into making that burger. From growing the feed the livestock eat and maintaining their living space, to processing the meat and grilling the patty, energy is used in every step of the food production process. If we focus on more sustainable production methods and a more plant-based dietary approach, a lot less energy would be consumed.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the primary greenhouse gases released in to our atmosphere are carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and fluorinated gases (1). Essentially, these gases are making a sort of blanket around the atmosphere that results in an increase in earth’s temperature, beyond a natural progression.
So what are some of the leading causes of greenhouse gas emissions you may be asking? For one, livestock production. In 2017, it was estimated that more than 8 percent of greenhouse gas emissions were due to livestock and food crop production (2). Think about all that goes into that: growing food for the livestock, clearing and maintaining land, disposing of waste, processing the livestock, irrigating crops, it goes on and on. And we can’t ignore the methane that cows release. Now, it wouldn’t be fair to blame the cows, their bodies naturally produce methane that is released when they pass gas or burp. But we can blame the high demand for beef. Less beef consumption, less demand.
Ultimately, shifting to a more plant-based diet has been identified as one of the most significant ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and preserve more natural resources.
According to Stanford Magazine, it is estimated that the production of one pound of protein uses 100 times more water than is used in the production of one pound of grain protein (3).
The production of dairy products, like milk, are big gulpers as well, with an estimated 1,000 gallons of water being used for every one gallon of milk produced (4). That’s a lot of water going in for a lot less in return. If we carry on with these trends, clean water supplies will continue to dwindle.
Meat and dairy products are staples in the human diet, but in reality, they make up only about 18% of the total calories we eat. Compare that to the amount of farmland meat and dairy production uses -- around 83% of the world's farmland -- and you have a huge discrepancy (5).
Instead, we could utilize some of that land to grow agricultural crops sustainability, without any chemicals or GMO’s, and leave the rest as nature intended. It’s the least we can do for this amazing home of ours.
So while we celebrate another year of Earth, remember, we have only one home. Let’s take care of it. We aren’t saying you have to change your whole way of living and start munching on leaves of kale (we aren’t saying you can’t either!), but information is power. It’s not just the Aloha thing to do, it’s the right thing to do.