Contributing Monkie Sarah Backhouse
Published on January 21, 2008
Five days left of my official plant-based experiment. To date, my diary updates have focused on what I’ve been eating (mainly fruits and veggies), how I’ve been feeling (clean and energized), what I’ve been avoiding (soy and sugar) and what I’ve been craving (salmon sashimi and those goddam blinis). Today I want to discuss how a plant-based diet is not only good for your health but also for the planet.
Studies have shown that people who subsist on plant-based diets have lower rates of coronary artery disease, gallstones, lung and colon cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure. According to Vegetarian Nutrition, “the total direct medical costs in the United States attributable to meat consumption were estimated to be $30-60 billion a year.” So, avoiding saturated fats and cholesterol found in animal products seems like a no-brainer.
But what impact do diets consisting of meat, fish and diary have on the environment? These statistics, courtesy of earthsave,org, paint a pretty damning picture. It takes 2,500 gallons of water, 12 pounds of grain, 35 pounds of topsoil and the energy equivalent of one gallon of gasoline to produce one pound of feedlot beef. Wow. Because of an over-consumption of fish, all 17 of the world’s major fishing areas have reached or exceeded their natural limits. On top of that, one-third of the world’s fish catch is fed directly to livestock, which graze a whopping one-half of the Earth’s land mass. The number of gallons of water needed to produce one pound of edible product: Apples 49; Carrots 33; Potatoes 24; Tomatoes 23; Beef 2,500. Yikes.
The more you educate yourself, the more a plant-based diet makes sense…on all levels. It’ll be interesting to see how I feel in 5 days time. Will I be the same person making the same dietary choices?
Stayed tuned for the dramatic conclusion.