Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Surprising Enviormental Benefits of a Raw or Whole Foods Diet

As a reminder, I would like to state that I would like to see people adopt the diet that is most healthy for the environment and for themselves. While I do not believe this need to mean 100% raw for everyone all of the time, I do believe in focusing on a heavily raw, plant-based diet which primarily consists of living foods.

Adopting this lifestyle has opened me up to a lot of unexpected experiences. In ridding my diet of processed foods I have lost 40 lbs., rid myself or boils, and stopped incessant stomach cramping. Aside from the physical, I have felt much more aware about my freedoms of choice, and how the smallest everyday actions can impact a larger picture. I am in no way environmentally perfect, but I am aware and set on self-improvement. My small personal goal today is to start bringing silverware to work everyday instead of using plastic utensils. Little changes can add up.

In honor of Earth Day I have written a list of some of the positive environmental impacts of adopting a raw vegan, plant-based, or whole foods diet.

1. Avoiding meat and dairy saves water and natural habitat. The UN itself has released a report about the positive environmental impacts of a vegan diet, stating that meat- and dairy-heavy diets are "unsustainable". To raise 2.2 lbs. of beef takes 16,000 gallons of water, while it only takes 18 gallons to produce an apple. 70% of the world's fresh water consumption is from agriculture, "particularly the meat and dairy industry". Rainforests in South America are cut down to create pastures for cattle farming. By taking animals products off the menu you are no longer financially supporting the corporate monster which is reeking havoc on our planet.

2. Farming over factories. Raw food diets rely primarily on fresh fruits and vegetables. Imagine what the food industry would look like if everyone adopted this lifestyle. Without stuffing ourselves on processed food, we would forgo the smokestack and conveyor belt for soil and greenery. Fruit yields the most crops per acre compare to other farmed foods, so we wouldn't be making land sacrifices either. In fact with more greenery we would be improving our air quality.

3. Less cooking oil run-off residue. When cooking food in oil, a lot will be leftover in the pan. It is easy not to think much of this and just pour it down the drain, but that doesn't really get rid off it. In fact, look how it has collected in sewers underneath London! If an average household has a bit of oil waste, imagine how much fast food restaurants have day after day! With a raw food diet oil consumption is minimal and typical eaten. There is nothing left at the bottom of the pan to wonder what to do with!

4. Less individual material waste. I was pleasantly surprised that switching to a primarily raw food diet has decreased our trash pile. Sure, we still buy some pre-packaged raw food snacks and bagged health powders, but most of our weekly groceries are produce! Having a pile of apple cores and avocado pits instead of plastic wrappers and styrofoam makes me feel much better about my choices. We also tend to buy in bulk more often, which also cuts down on packaging. When you are driving down the road and get upset about the litter are you thinking, "I wonder what jerk dropped that banana peel" or "I wonder what jerk dropped that McDonald's bag?"

5. Energy savings in the home. Not cooking means not turning on the oven or the microwave. It may sound simple, but that is an energy saver right there! Dehydrators, blenders, and food processors can use up a lot of energy too, so don't stress about making every single meal a big production. Fruit and salads are often the best choices you can make!

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