Turning the tide: how marine life gave me a new perspective on my relationship with food
My childhood summer holidays revolved around the sea, first running naked around the beach, 306 - the number of our wooden beach hut - in marker on my back.
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Food is a hot topic. Every day we are confronted with yet another alarming message. The world is in distress and the salvation lies in changing our food habits. But how? Trends take turn. And most of us are getting tired and skeptical of being told how to live.
To make it easy I am going to zoom in on the one undeniable truth. Plant-based food is the way forward. And this is why:
The EAT-Lance Commission created the Planetary Health Diet, which is basically THE diet that can prevent humanity from going extinct. In their report the EAT-Lancet Commission explains that our diet is the largest contributor to global environmental degradation. Farming for example, with livestock as the biggest rascal, is one of the main drivers behind climate change, the destruction of wildlife and the pollution of rivers and oceans.
So if you care about the environment it really is quite easy? Stop eating animal products.
Some fun facts:
- Nearly one-fifth of the greenhouse gasses is emitted by cattle farms alone (FAO). One cow produces the same amount of greenhouse gases as 4.5 cars; which is basically the same as driving 70000 km (Wakker Dier).
- The UN states meat production as the second largest reason behind soil contamination, water/air pollution and acidification.
- Producing meat is highly inefficient. It requires huge amounts of water. Did you know that in order to produce one kilogram of beef, you need as many as 15500 litres of water?
- In order to keep livestock and feed the animals, you need a serious amount of land. Unique flora and fauna is driven to extinction. We see a rapid decrease in biodiversity all over the world.
Studies done for the NCBI reveal that flipping to a plant-based diet decreases the chance on cardiovascular diseases, some types of cancer, type 2 diabetes and obesity. In 2015, WHO even added processed meat to its list of carcinogens. The Dutch Dietary Centre recently adjusted their guidelines and from now on recommends eating fewer animal products.
And if you are afraid a plant-based diet will make you weak. The brilliant documentary The Game Changers proofs that it really is the other way around. In the Game Changers different athletes demonstrate that switching to a plant-based diet brings significant performance advances providing optimal fuel, increasing blood flow, making muscles more efficient, and speeding recovery by lowering inflammation. These benefits can not only be experienced by athletes, but by anyone who wants to feel and perform better in any aspect of their lives.
There really is only one minus when you are a strict vegan (although truthful this also a problem for meat eaters). A vitamin B12 deficiency. B12 is a nutrient that helps to keep the body's nerve and blood cells healthy. B12 can be found in natural water and soil. And the reason why it can be found in animal products is because animals eat food that is often covered in soil. A B12 shortage is easily resolved by supplements.
And if you live in the Northern Hemisphere, a vegan diet can result in a shortage of vitamin D. The main source of vitamin D is sunlight and in smaller quantities it is also provided by animal products like oily fish species and dairy products. So make sure to pop some vitamin D supplements in the winter months.
We eat way too much meat, dairy and eggs. And the demand is growing. According to the Economist the combined total of livestock
living at any one time is at least three times higher than the number of people. It is safe to say that it is getting crowed on our planet. And these 30 billion+ animals are hungry. We use at least 70% of all farmland for cattle farming and the majority of this land is used to produce cattle feed (wheat, corn and soya).
This is because cultivating animal meat is highly inefficient. On average you need 7 kg of plants to get 1 kg of meat. And as a result of this you need at least 4 times more water for 1 kg of meat than 1 kg of wheat.
So using agricultural land directly for human consumption would be more efficient. Veganism could significantly contribute to reducing world hunger (Chatham, M. Gentleworld).
Did you ever had or knew anyone with a dog and can you recall if this dog was just a dog or where you able to see personality.
Research has measured animal personality, better described as animal disposition, in over 100 species.
Even farm animals feel pleasure and sadness, excitement and resentment, depression, fear and pain. They are much more sensitive and intelligent than we ever imagined. Ethologist Jane Goodall - The Inner World of Farm Animals.
The bio-industry but also the organic farms have put economics above animal welfare. And animal suffering is not exclusive for meat productions. The same goes for the dairy, egg and honey industry.
So sustainability and health aside, do you want to contribute or help end animal suffering?
There is no one size (methode) fits all. But for most people a radical switch is not the way to go. Slowly start to change your eating habits. First try to eat a vegan breakfast for a month. After a while start to include more vegetables in your meals and make dairy, eggs and meat less important. The real mind shift starts when you make plants the hero of every meal.
For example, you could start the day with a vegetable breakfast, exchanging yoghurt for Coco Start or Almond Start. Our blog provides a number of recipes to enjoy delicious, plant-based breakfast.
Sources: National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), VeganChallenge, Het Voedingscentrum, Gentleworld, Food and Agriculture Organization of United Nations (FAO), Wakker Dier, World Health Organization