Nutrition, Plant-based Eating, Sustainable Nutrition

Why I’m concerned the way we eat makes us total jerks

“The only way to have a friend is to be one.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

You want to be liked. Even if you say you don’t, your biology dictates you do. We are social creatures, and social creatures want to be liked. And generally, we are likable.

We have compassion. We are considerate. We are effable, magnanimous.

A good example of our collective caring was the historic Women’s March. Nationwide, over 4 million people, approximately 1.3% of the US population, took to the streets.

Across the world, there were another 261 marches where people laced up their shoes in the name of equality and respect for all.

womens march

womens march

Another great example of universal empathy was the People’s Climate March. I marched with my step sister and Dr. P.

climate marchWhy then, if our world is full of caring souls, am I concerned the way we eat makes us jerks?

Because our intention to live well and be kind is falling far short.

We need a nice, cold bucket of ice water dumped over our heads, a good movie-style slap across our rosy cheeks, a leisurely and quick stroll into a glass sliding door.

We are prioritizing convenience and taste over sustainability and health.

Over 70% of us are overweight or obese, and we are dying of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure in record numbers, and our planet hates us right now.

If Earth was a person, she would be walking with a cane, shooting up with insulin, using a CPAP machine to breathe at night, and be a frequent flyer to the ER for all manner of physical ailments.

We need to help her.

And the simplest thing we can do to have a dramatic impact, is to change how we eat.

From the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee 2015 scientific report:

“Consistent evidence indicates that, in general, a dietary pattern that is higher in plant‐based foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, and lower in animal‐based foods is more health promoting and is associated with lesser environmental impact (GHG emissions and energy, land, and water use) than is the current average U.S. diet.”

I recently wrote a blog post for a group in Washington DC, DC Ecowomen, about a diet for a healthier planet. It’s a good and quick read, but the highlights are we are basically utilizing too many of our resources in an unfair way.

Here are 8 ways we can be less jerky to future generations:

Eat black bean tacos instead of beef or chicken.

Meat production alone now generates more greenhouse gas emissions than all the world’s transport combined. If we decreased our intake to recommended levels of 5 oz or less a day, we would reduce 40% of greenhouse gas emissions.

At what actual cost?

We’re also eating way too much meat, and not nearly enough beans or legumes which are tied to better health.

By shifting to a vegetarian diet, we would decrease individual agricultural land use by 48% and greenhouse gas production by 58% as compared to the typical American diet,

Check out sustainable seafood.

Check out Some seafood has excessive bycatch which is environmentally unsustainable.

Eat hummus instead of cheese with your crackers.

Dairy is up there with meat in terms of greenhouse gas production.

Meal plan to not over buy at the grocery.

The average family could save $2,200 annually by paying more attention to what we toss. Wasted food could feed the hungry 4x over, according to estimates by the recovery pyramid

Eat more fruits and vegetables daily to promote dietary diversity and good health.

This would help show our government that we need change on a subsidiary level as well as improve soil quality. Right now, we are subsidizing commercially grown meat and dairy and the crops we need to feed them (soy and corn). Fruits and vegetables are left in the cold. This double pyramid shows that the foods that are healthy for us (fruits and veggies and beans!) are also those that would help save our planet.double pyramid

Eat less generally.

We are so overweight as a nation because we consume excess calories- calories and nutrition that could be spread out throughout the globe. We are eating far too many calories daily from animal saturated fats, added sugars, and processed foods.

Maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle to limit impact on the health system and its resources.

Our healthcare spending on chronic diseases is growing faster than any other nation.. It is projected that half of us will have a chronic disease by 2050 if we continue with our current habits and systems.

Talk to our children.

Reinforce healthy behaviors and concern for our planet. We even have children’s books these days addressing climate change. A fun way to introduce a heavy subject!

And don’t forget…

You want to be liked. So don’t be a jerk.

If we can eat differently and gain a healthier body and planet as a result, why wouldn’t we?

I can assure you, it’s even more fun than you can imagine to branch out and explore our planet’s culinary creations.

xoxo Joanna


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