When people ask me why I’ve made the shift to a plant-based diet, I refer them to all of the hip celebrities like Beyonce and Ellen DeGeneres who were my inspiration. They then continue to look at me like I’m an alien and nod along smiling (which I used to do, too, by the way). All jokes aside, an optimal diet for humans has been the subject of much debate. But what do we mean by ‘optimal’? First of all, we should know that our diet not only affects us, but our environment, as well. Even though a lot of research has been done that indicates a plant-based diet can reduce the risk of many diseases, our purposes here will be to focus on an ‘optimal’ diet with respect to its impact on the environment and our state of well-being. If we’re concerned about the environment, our moral conscience and state of well-being, we could all benefit from a plant-based diet.
The environment around us is clearly out of whack. Natural disaster occurrences and their intensity are on the rise. Climate change is real, and is having drastic consequences all around the world. It wouldn’t take more than a quick Google search to find more information on this, but some of its effects can be seen and are summarized in a powerful speech by sustainability advocate and famous actor, Leonardo DiCaprio. What’s probably shocking for most of us is that animal agriculture and its byproducts is one of the leading contributors to climate change – even more so than combined exhaust from all transportation. If we focus on increasing plant-based foods in our diet, and minimizing animal products, we’ll bring collective fighting power to a leading cause of this global issue.
Then, there’s the animals. ‘What would you do if I ate two chickens for every one you don’t eat?’ – an old half-joking question I remember kids telling vegetarians back when I was in elementary school. What did I think about these jokes back then? What were most kids thinking? Most of us probably didn’t think twice about eating meat, especially since most of it is given different names than the animal it comes from, like ‘bacon’ or ‘burgers’. Maybe it would be different if we did use the animal terms more frequently. Either way, most of the industries that produce animal products are responsible for some pretty shocking treatment of those animals. Asides from the fact that they are killed (and experience terrible pain along the way), they are regularly exposed to violence and terrible living conditions. A good documentary that highlights the true nature of these industries is Earthlings.
How do we feel about our pets at home? Could these farm animals that are used for our food be kept as or loved like our pets? If not, do they deserve what they are going through? Reflecting on these questions may or may not change our perspectives. If we spend time focusing on the positive contributions we can make my minimizing the support we give these industries, we may find a new-found passion in the form of our diets. We may start to feel like we’re making a little more of a difference, illuminating our world just a little bit more, individually, and collectively.
Small changes; big difference
- Incorporate more nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables in your diet
- Pick one meal or day a week where you avoid meat or animal products
- Try a new recipe from one of these awesome bloggers, Minimalist Baker or Oh She Glows
- Spread the message (be nice!)
Thanks for reading, and keep illuminating!