Food, health and climate change: back to basics is best

Imagine if you could save the planet just by choosing what you eat? It’s not that far fetched.

Knowing the quality and source of your food is vitally important. The more you know about where your food comes from, how it is grown and the impact it has on the planet – the more you can control what you put inside your body to keep it functioning well.

Even though the majority of vegans and vegetarians will get more nutrients, minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants than your average meat eater, following a plant-based diet doesn’t automatically make you healthy. There is such a thing as vegan junk food too, which is why I always advise:

Don’t compromise on source and quality. Follow a nutrient rich plant-based diet or even eat some meat if you choose to ­– but always know where your food comes from, how it is grown and what it is fed. The planet and your body will reward you for it.

Clean food for a cleaner planet

We know that eating a plant-based diet is better for the planet and while more and more people are moving away from meat (which has a much higher environmental footprint than fruit, veggies and grains) it’s not as simple as choosing spinach over steak. It’s important to know where your spinach was grown, how it was transported, processed, packaged, consumed – and even wasted.

Food is connected to everything. The entire food system directly impacts climate change. Mass food producers generate enormous amounts of carbon, heat, and greenhouse gases daily. Climate change results in extreme weather events like floods, droughts, and fires, which in turn impacts the ability to grow more food.

Just imagine if the true ingredients that went into the production of  a pack of fresh spinach were printed on its label?

Imagine being able to see the types of fertilisers and pesticides involved?

How much water was used in its production?

What about the number of carbon miles used to transport the spinach from its source to the shelf?

And don’t forget materials used to make its packaging so that those rich green leaves could make it to your plate?

Just by knowing the quality and source of your food, you can reduce the toxic load including GMOs, hormones, agri-chemicals, antibiotics, plastics and the by products associated with factory-farmed animal products.

It’s not only about the planet. But quality plant-based foods impact your health too. Big Foods (massive producers that dominate the production and sale of food to consumers) reap financial benefits by turning their produce into sugary, starchy, highly addictive foods. Foods that can cause preventable chronic diseases.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) examined the science base of the relationship between diet and major nutrition related chronic diseases to provide guidelines on how to reduce the burden of illness in terms of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, several forms of cancer, osteoporosis and dental disease. In short, eating nutrient-dense foods (i.e. plant-based) and maintaining a healthy weight is essential at all stages of life. Unbalanced consumption of food that is high in energy (sugar, starch or fat) and low in essential nutrients contributes to obesity. The amount of the energy consumed in relation to physical activity and the quality of food are key determinants of nutrition related chronic disease.

Quality food for a healthier body

Eating nutrient-rich food is not overly complicated:

  • Eat the best quality plant-based nutrients you can afford.
  • Eat seasonally, this means the food doesn’t need to be processed for travelling long distances (it also means a smaller carbon footprint).
  • Eat wholefoods. Shelf stable foods translate contain preservatives, trans fats, sodium and sugars.
  • Eat organic foods that have been grown without the use of artificial chemical, hormones or genetically modified organisms.

Vegan, vegetarian, carnivore or flexitarian, we all have a responsibility to make sure that we know where and how the food we eat is grown, packaged and transported. It’s not always easy, but even if you start by supporting local, eating seasonally and paying close attention to the ingredients – you have taken an excellent step in the right direction.

Thrive Global: Plant-based Diets Could Be Key to Saving the Planet — But Only If We Clean Up How We Grow Our Food
WHO: Diet, nutrition and the prevention of chronic diseases
Marie Forleo: Mark Hyman’s Food Fix – How to Save Your Health and the Planet



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