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Does a Good Diet Help the Environment?

We all want to do good for the environment. With stuff like climate change and the pretty dire warnings coming out of the scientific community because of it, a lot of us are left wondering what the world is going to look like in 20 or 30 years. And what that might mean for our kids — and their kids.

Now, you might think, “well, I’m only one person and there’s not much I can do”, but I’ve always been of the mind that change starts with a few good people doing something different. Which is why a recent Economist article gave me a little bit of hope.

In it, a study by the UN Food and Agricultural Organization looked at the effect that our meat-heavy diets have on the environment and found that a lot of emissions come from our livestock — as in 8 to 18 percent of all emissions. Crazy, huh? The reasons for this is that livestock has a tendency to produce a lot of methane and more meat purchases means more demand which means more livestock.

The bright side of all this is getting a little more green in your diet can help keep the planet, well, greener. You see, veggies produce a lot less emissions. In fact, the National Academy of Sciences found that a modest meat diet was modeled to increase emissions by only 7% by 2050 — compared to a 51% increase if we kept the status quo. A big switch to vegan or vegetarian diets? — that would actually start curbing our emissions in the ballpark of 60 to 70 percent.

Now, I think it’s pretty understandable that nobody expects the world to become a majority vegan or vegetarian place in the next few years. But I think the point is that eating a little less meat can make you a little more conscientious of a consumer. Or, if you have to, maybe picking a greener protein like chicken over beef or pork.

At the end of the day, it might be something that not only helps out the planet but your health.