I’m watching the rain pouring through another week in January and thinking about what we can do to fix this. More specifically, what can each of us do as individuals to help mitigate the severity of climate change. We have traditionally focused on fossil fuel emissions from transportation and energy production as the primary drivers of anthropogenic climate change. While these remain significant, we now understand that current agriculture is also a significant driver of climate change through its emission of potent greenhouse gases, such as methane and carbon dioxide. Indeed, if we are to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, we must fundamentally shift our agricultural systems on a global scale. In other words, what we eat not only impacts our health, but also the health of the planet. I’ve been discussing this relationship in my college courses for several years, and now the popular press is giving it more attention based on the EAT–Lancet Commission’s report released last week. What it recommends is essentially this - eat less meat and sugar, and replace them with plant based foods. While I commend the Commission’s report, it doesn’t quite go far enough for personal health. If you want to reduce your risk of cancer, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and their associated disabilities significantly, you need to do more than what is recommended. Specifically, you need to make sure that no more than 10% of your daily protein comes from meat (including dairy) and do your best to eliminate ALL refined sugars. Naturally, this provides additional benefits for our global environment and improves our economy by reducing the percentage of our income spent on healthcare.
When my students ask me for the “one sentence fix” for our health crisis, healthcare crisis, and environmental crisis, I tell them this - Just. Stop. Eating. Meat. Combined with a significant reduction or elimination of refined sweeteners, we can keep ourselves and our planet away from the doctor’s office.
Learn more from the EAT–Lancet Commission’s report here:
Further recommend reading:
The China Study