Celebrate Earth Day with a Plant-Based Diet
We love our planet and want to do everything we can to protect it, for us and for future generations. It can seem like an insurmountable challenge combating climate change and the environmental impact of the industrial revolution. That’s why we love Earth Day—an annual reminder of what individuals are capable of achieving when we work together.
What is Earth Day?
The first Earth Day was observed on April 22nd, 1970 and has been celebrated annually ever since. Originally the idea of Senator Gaylord Nelson from Wisconsin, Earth Day has grown from an event on American college campuses to the largest secular holiday in the world—reaching 1 billion people every year. Senator Nelson was inspired by the energy from the anti-war movement and wanted to use that momentum to raise awareness about air and water pollution.
20 million Americans joined together in 1970 in parks across the country to demonstrate against the impact of climate change. Their efforts paid off with the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and more environmental laws shortly after.
Twenty years later, Earth Day went global by focusing on recycling programs and environmental issues in over 140 countries. The observance grows every year; since 1970, Earth Day has brought volunteer opportunities and engaged billions of people with the environmental movement in 193 countries.
How Diet Can Make A Difference
Earth Day may happen once a year, but there are ways you can help the environment every day. Studies show that food production represents 35% of total global man-made greenhouse gas emissions. These greenhouse gases are one of the biggest contributors to heat in the atmosphere, accelerating climate change. It’s a big number, but what can we do? People need to eat. Well, it turns out that plant-based diets result in half of the greenhouse gas emissions compared to animal-based foods.
Beef is by far the largest contributor, generating 25% of total food emissions. These numbers come from land use change (cutting down forests to create grazing areas), energy used to plow fields and deliver products to market, and nitrogen fertilizers used in fields.
Comparatively, while rice is the second largest emission producer after beef, it only counts for 12% of total food emissions. Rice is so high because farmers flood paddies to grow rice, but it stands for a significant improvement over beef’s impact.
By switching to a plant-based diet, you can help lower these numbers. Increasing demand for plant-based foods will lead corporations to alter their production lines and curb their greenhouse gas emissions. There is still time to make a difference for climate change; but we need to act now.
Plant-Based Recipes for Earth Day
Apart from helping the environment, a plant-based diet can help you, too! There are tons of nutrients in fruits and vegetables that we take for granted. On top of that, plant-based diets are linked to a decreased risk for Type 2 Diabetes and heart disease along with improved gut health and athletic performance.
You might be worried that a plant-based diet is too much of a change for you and your family. The difference is likely smaller than you expect. In fact, a Mediterranean diet shares a lot in common with a completely plant-based one. Just check out our recipe for Sun Dried Tomatoes and Spinach Gnocchi—the proof is in the pudding, er, gnocchi.
Also, don’t feel pressured to switch 100% on Day One. Every little bit helps and you’ll get all the way there in no time!