17 Mar Sustainable Eating
A week doesn’t go by without climate change making the news – and almost always for the wrong reasons.
Record high temperatures in Antarctica, heavy rains and flooding across Asia, unprecedented destructive hurricanes in the Carribean, and the recent droughts in the Western Cape and other provinces are all being attributed to climate change.
While cynics may say that it’s too late to make a difference, we disagree – and there’s good scientific reason to believe that climate change can be slowed or even halted.
In fact, one of the best ways to curb global warming is by making a few simple changes to our diet.
Plant-based diets – good for the body and the planet
The benefits of plant-based nutrition need no introduction – but it’s worth repeating: limiting meat in your diet will almost always be good for your health.
Population studies in the Mediterranean, Japan and other nations with excellent longevity have linked these positive outcomes to a diet rich in grains and vegetables.
The improvements in cholesterol, blood sugar levels and other conditions in patients who adopt a vegan diet provide further evidence that we should all consider this progressive lifestyle. Now there’s new evidence that it’s not only good for the body but also essential for the future of our planet.
According to a special report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, current agricultural practices are a major contributor to the climate crisis.
Costly, inhumane and unsustainable – the case against meat
Meat consumption is a major cultural stumbling block on the path to sustainable living, and South Africa’s love of a good braai, gourmet burgers and steak dinners is no exception.
While many of us were raised on meat, the agricultural processes involved in its production are not only expensive and cruel to animals but also environmentally unsustainable.
The production of meat – including cattle, pork and poultry – which forms a major part of diets around the world – is water-intensive and contributes to soil erosion.
The environmental damage continues when animals are processed for consumption and their meat transported to distribution centres and on to wholesalers and retailers.
By comparison, crops, vegetables, beans and legumes can be grown, harvested and prepared on the same farm – and even packaged for retail.
A single trip could see them delivered directly to the shop, or even to the customer’s door through online shopping. The smaller quantities involved could make it possible to deliver them via hybrid or electric vehicles in the future.
With up to 20% of our current agricultural produce being lost to sheer waste, and meat products being more vulnerable to spoiling than vegetables and grains, it makes excellent sense to base our diets around foods that come straight from the soil.
An opportunity to live better in every way
Plant-based nutrition has major advantages over the consumption of animal products, including lower levels of saturated fat and high vitamin and mineral and dietary fibre content.
By shifting from meat-based proteins to plant proteins, the risk of heart disease and other conditions decreases substantially. Despite these benefits however, the desirability of a meat-based diet persists in many countries.
- Developing nations have undergone major transformations over the past century, and with increasing wealth comes exposure to Western culture – and the Western diet.
- Unfortunately, this is seldom a good thing from a nutrition point of view (as people increase their intake of meat, milk, sugar and processed foods) and it’s especially bad for the planet.
- With the world population set to exceed 9.7 billion by 2050, our current eating patterns simply can’t be sustained. Taking action today to educate the public about plant-based diets and make the switch to meatless meals is essential.
The popularity of meatless burgers that taste almost identical to their beef counterparts and the general trend toward plant based eating is an encouraging development. Now it’s up to the alternative medicine profession to make sure the trend continues.
The shift toward plant-based living is possible if we all do it
Whether you’re an alternative medicine practitioner, a nutritionist, or a professional working in the supplements and alternative treatment sector, there’s a lot you can do to help bring about a meatless revolution.
From advising patients to adopt a plant-based diet to ensuring that plant protein, healthy plant extracts and vitamins like b12 (that aren’t found in plant-based foods) are available on the SA market, there’s something we all can do to make a difference.
If you’d like to add a new plant-based nutrition product or alternative medicine to the South African or overseas market, we would love to consult with you to make it happen. Contact us today.