Eating to Protect Body, Mind and Biodiversity - Part 1
Hey guys. First, thank you so much for taking some of your time to read this article. Feel free to comment with any questions or feedback.
Second, I’m a pescetarian that is struggling (but doing so much better as of late) to eliminate dairy from my diet. This is what is best for me, my body, my ethics and I’m sure it will change again at some point. Your diet is your diet. I’ll lay out the facts and give you resources that follow general guidelines for personal and worldly health, but listen to your body and heart in regards to your diet. There are soooo many fad diets, and marketing does a hell of a job to demonize and glorify certain foods to make a lot of money. But truly, your diet should be unique to your heart and body. Yes, listen to your heart, too, when deciding which diet (vegetarian, vegan, basic omnivore, no-real-label-just-what-feels-good) is best for you.
Let’s dig in, shall we?
How do you eat to protect your body, mind and the biodiversity of the planet? Well, first, EAT LIKE YOU GIVE A DAMN. Eat like you give a damn about your body and health. Eat like you give a damn about your children’s or future children’s health. Eat like you give a damn about the earth on which you live your beautiful life. Eat like you give a damn about the animals with whom you share the planet.
Little bit of a rant there.
Here are my 5 simple guidelines to help us all more consciously eat like we give a damn.
Increase vegetable and fruit intake
Increase good starch/grains intake
In this blog, we’ll be looking at guidelines 1 and 4: increase vegetable and fruit intake & reduce meat.
Before you scroll down, think about your average plate. What is the proportion of vegetables or fruit? What kind of starch is present (pasta, rice, sweet potato, bread)? How much dairy is there? How much of your plate does your portion of meat (or protein) take up? Make a mental picture, or actually draw out what your average plate looks like.
Now here’s what it should look like.
Surprised? I was at first, too.
As we can see, vegetables and fruits should take up half of our plates, grains are next, and our meats and proteins should take up the smallest amount of space. And then dairy is over there not even on the plate.
Why should these be the proportions? I’ll explain. Remember, we are only tackling guidelines 1 and 4 right now. Don’t feel like you have to drastically change everryytthhiiingg right away. We’re doing baby steps together.
Increase vegetables and fruits:
Veggies and fruits are truly exquisite food groups. They contain high amounts of vitamins, especially vitamins A and C, minerals, antioxidants (strong cancer-fighters), and dietary fiber.
Here’s a quick preview of why the above listed things are so beneficial. Vitamin A plays a major role in the fetal development of eyes, limbs, the cardiovascular system, and the nervous system. A lack of vitamin A during pregnancy can even lead to birth defects and miscarriages :(. Vitamin A is needed for healthy function of the cells in your lungs, trachea, skin, intestines, and many other systems in the body. Vitamin C is needed to make collagen - the thing that holds the body together. It also provides strength to your connective tissue. Vitamin C is needed to produce needed hormones, and acts as an antioxidant (strong cancer fighter). White blood cells, part of the body’s immune defenses, are PACKED with vitamin C. Dietary fiber helps to reduce blood cholesterol and blood sugar, lowering risk of cardiovascular disease. Fiber also acts as “food” for the good bacteria (probiotics) living in your gut, which can promote a healthy and happy gut.
Make your plate 50% veggies and fruits at each meal to help your body get all the goodness it needs to stay healthy. Oh! And there are some side effects I should let you know about. More energy, clearer thoughts, a calmer mind, carbon footprint reduction, and it will without a doubt help lead you to your healthy weight range.
Meats are rich in complete proteins, help with collagen production, are good sources of the B vitamins and Vitamin D, and minerals like zinc and iron. On the flip side, they are high in saturated fats, are taxing on the environment, and in high intakes are associated with increased risk of breast cancer, prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer, colorectal cancer, heart failure, and more. These risks increase even higher with the consumption of processed meats - cured meats like bacon, hot dogs, ham, salami, etc.
As a whole, our current consumption of meat is way too high. It is so out of balance, and this huge imbalance is causing negative health outcomes for people, animals and the planet.
Did you know:
“Livestock production is the single largest driver of habitat loss, and both livestock and feedstock production are increasing in developing tropical countries where the majority of biological diversity resides.”
Where are we getting all of this land to farm cattle for meat and dairy, chickens, pigs, etc.? The rainforests.
And. The way the big farms are farming is through a process called Monoculture Feed Crop Cultivation. Which means farming only one crop/animal on a large scale. This kind of farming is known to create Dead Zones. Dead Zones are areas in the ocean (can also be lakes and rivers) that do not have enough oxygen to support marine life. AKA dolphins and fishies are suffocating to death. This is caused by too many chemicals from agricultural runoff getting into the water and causing huge algae blooms, and this algae uses up all of the oxygen.
Lastly, here’s a little sneak peek from a future blog - protein should only be 10-15% of your diet.
So, when you do eat meat, eat less, spend the extra money and buy local. Support your small farmers who are being ethical and doing it right. Keep them in business. This goes for your fruits and veggies, too. SHOP LOCAL!
For the next 14 days, try abiding by these 2 guidelines. Then, we’ll add on two more guidelines (reducing dairy and increasing good starches). After two more weeks we’ll talk about cooking more, and I’ll share some of my personal recipes and tips.
Really pay attention to the food you’re putting into your body, and see how you can incorporate some more veggies and fruits and reduce meat. Experiment! Little by little. Baby steps. You can totally do this. Check out Nutrition Stripped for some inspiration and recipes. McKel is a registered dietician and she does an amazing job with her recipes! https://nutritionstripped.com/category/eat-well/
Whenever you hit a roadblock, comment below or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Ask for help. Share your experience. We all do better when we are part of a community. Let’s bring good, whole food and health back into our culture. Let’s spend time as a community talking about food and eating together again.
Thank you so much for reading, and remember to ultimately listen to YOUR body. Tune in soon for more health and nutrition blogs.
Biodiversity conservation: The key is reducing meat consumption
Wardlaw’s Perspectives in Nutrition. Eighth Edition. Bredbenner, Carol, et. al.