As a father of four young children, I am growing ever more concerned about the future of our planet. I wonder about the world that my kids will inherit, and quite frankly, it feels as if we are on the precipice of serious disaster.
The New York Times reported a few weeks ago that the world is now hotter than ever. And while some politicians continue to claim that this is all a hoax, the realities are hard to ignore. According to the Times, "Temperatures are heading toward levels that many experts believe will pose a profound threat to both the natural world and to human civilization."
That's scary stuff.
One of the key culprits is the growth in animal agriculture, which is responsible for 18 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions—more than the exhaust from all transportation combined. If every American dropped just one serving of chicken from their diet per week, it would save the same amount of CO2 emissions as removing 500,000 cars from the road and start to make a bit of a dent in this massive problem.
Complicating matters further is that nearly half of the contiguous United States is devoted to animal agriculture, and that tends to be a very inefficient use of land. In fact, one and a half acres of land can produce 375 pounds of meat, or more than 37,000 pounds of plant food. Think about the millions of people who continue to live in hunger, and how a modified use of our land to grow food could alter our society for the better.
Environmental concerns don't just stop at land usage. Water—specifically water conservation—is a huge issue that we need to manage. California has been living through its worst drought in 100 years with daily water restrictions and limits. Guess what? The meat and dairy industry uses a third of the entire planet's fresh water to do what they do.
It's not just the health of our planet that is at stake; it's our own health that is also in a bit of a tailspin. Adopting a whole food, plant-based diet is the one nutritional regimen that has been scientifically proven to prevent and even reverse modern-day plagues like obesity, heart disease, and diabetes—all heavily influenced by the availability of cheap and highly processed foods.
If it's something you've considered but either aren't sure how to incorporate plant-based eating into your lifestyle or are nervous to take the plunge, here are a few things to consider: