There are plenty of reasons to begin eating healthy, such as living a longer life, boosting your immune system, lowering your risk of disease, losing weight, and improving your overall health. One lesser-known reason to begin eating healthy is the positive impact on the environment. If you’re wondering how you can support the world in the fight against climate change, eating healthier is a good place to start. Here are some of the ways eating healthier can positively impact the environment.
Better for the environment
Many people all over the world would identify as meat lovers. While turning the world into vegetarians may not be realistic, eating a diet rich in plants and less meat-focused presents many benefits. More than half of the world’s agricultural land is dedicated to raising livestock for the meat industry. It takes tons of resources to raise livestock, from electricity, land, feeds, and more. By eating less meat, we help reduce the demand for meat products, allowing more land for farming, which we certainly need as the global population grows. In addition, farm animals account for almost 15% of greenhouse gas emissions, so reducing the amount of livestock we raise inherently decreases the damage we do every day to the environment.
Uses less land
As we said earlier, the meat and livestock industry accounts for much of the world’s agricultural land. Plant-rich diets require less land for farming. Lots of damage to the environment has been the result of the farming industry. Deforestation damages not only the environment but also displaces the animals who inhabit that environment. Farmland accounts for over half of the world’s land, and we could be using that land to protect the habitats of endangered animals, improve soil conditions, improve the quality and quantity of drinkable water, and conserve our water resources.
Reduced greenhouse emissions
If more people ate plant-rich diets, we would reduce the need for livestock raising. Livestock requires tons of energy to raise and do a lot of damage to the environment through the release of additional carbon dioxide. By reducing the demand for meat, not only do we cut down greenhouse emissions, but we also help to conserve other resources such as water, energy, and land. Livestock production contributes to deforestation, erosion, obesity, the pollution of our water, and air pollution, showing the many ways this type of farming contributes to climate change.
Better for animals
If livestock emission isn’t enough to start eating healthier, this one might be the final push you need. The livestock industry has long had an infamous reputation for mistreating animals. In almost any given factory farm, how most animal products we eat are raised, you can find examples of torture, mutilation, confinement and overcrowding, and more. This doesn’t mean everyone in the world needs to become a vegan, but reducing our consumption of meat and supporting ethical farming when we do can help us treat the animals we use in our food better and help support us in the fight to save our planet.
Promotes eco-friendly businesses
Implementing healthy eating, and other sustainable practices helps promote more eco-friendly businesses in the marketplace. People vote with their wallets. With enough people showing the demand for sustainable products and goods, more corporations will implement environmentally-friendly practices. By supporting businesses that support the environment and the people who inhabit it, we help promote sustainable business practices. Sustainable business practices include utilizing eco-friendly packaging, reducing energy usage through clean energy, supporting the people who make the products, and supporting the farmhands who collect our food.
Eating local is less harmful to the environment
When you go to a grocery store, you probably notice how far your produce and goods travel before hitting the shelves. You may notice avocados come from Mexico, and bananas come from parts of Asia, Africa, Latin America, and many more. Depending on where you live, your food may have to travel hundreds, if not thousands of miles before reaching grocery stores to be sold. Traveling food uses precious resources, such as oil and gas for transportation from locations far away. Additionally, these foods use a lot of energy to keep them fresh throughout the travel. Because our food has to travel so far, it accounts for the same amount of smog released by 1.5 million cars according to some studies. By eating locally, you reduce the number of miles your food has to travel before being brought home to be consumed.
As our natural resources dwindle and our resource footprint increases, reducing waste is essential in helping the environment. Studies have shown that nutrient-rich healthy diets lead to less food waste. Many of us are familiar with the experience of watching a fridge full of groceries go to waste. Not only is this a waste of money, but it also harms the environment. Food loss worsens the climate change crisis because all the wasted food goes straight to our already bursting landfills. In addition, these landfills are responsible for about 11% of global methane emissions, so less trash means fewer greenhouse gas emissions.
Better for our bodies
While helping the environment is a great reason to eat healthier, another obvious benefit is the benefits for your body. A healthy diet helps you regulate your energy levels, helping you feel more awake in the morning, improves productivity, improves your mood, and lowers your risk of diseases such as heart disease or diabetes. Cutting out bad habits of unhealthy eating can be tough, especially if you’ve gone your whole life eating unhealthy foods. By implementing incremental changes, you help support the environment and support your body in performing the duties of your everyday life.
Eating healthier to save the planet
If everyone participated in eating a little healthier, it could lead to some big changes for the world. From more ethical farm-raising to more land, and reduced greenhouse gasses, there are plenty of ways to support the environment by eating healthier. Whether that means eating less meat, voting with your wallet, eating locally, or reducing your food waste, doing something can make a big impact. So get your friends and family in on it, and start eating healthier to help the environment.
Ashley Nielsen earned a B.S. degree in Business Administration Marketing at Point Loma Nazarene University. She is a freelance writer who loves to share knowledge about general business, marketing, lifestyle, wellness, and financial tips. During her free time, she enjoys being outside, staying active, reading a book, or diving deep into her favorite music.