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Plant-Based Eating – Good For You, Good For the Planet

Eating a plant-based diet has become more popular lately. You may have noticed several fast-food chains are now offering plant-based protein options with veggie burgers, breakfast sandwiches, tacos, and even vegan cheese pizzas.

WHY THIS NEW SURGE OF INTEREST?
Health Benefits: In 2015, the World Health Organization ranked processed meat— including bacon, hot dogs, and sausage—as Class 1 carcinogens. This puts bacon in the same category as other carcinogens like tobacco, alcohol, and asbestos. Colorectal cancer has especially been linked with the consumption of processed meat and red meat.

A study just came out this February in JAMA Internal Medicine that showed that the consumption of both processed meat and red meat significantly increase the risk of death by cardiovascular disease.

Eating more whole grains such as brown rice and whole-wheat bread have been found to significantly reduce your risk of colorectal cancer. A diet that is rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes is associated with a 25% decreased risk of ischemic heart disease.

Global Benefits: Another reason to try a more plantbased diet is the impact on the environment. The production of livestock for meat causes about 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. This may not sound like a lot, but the world population is growing and consuming more and more meat with an expected increase in demand of 70% by 2050.

Water consumption is another reason for concern. According to the Water Footprint Calculator, beef requires 1,847 gallons of water per pound of meat. Compare this to the production of a pound of tofu which requires about 300 gallons of water.

I know what you’re thinking: but where do you get your protein? Surprisingly, we really don’t need as much as we think. The average woman needs about 46 grams of protein per day according to the Recommended Dietary Allowance, and the average man needs approximately 56 grams. As Americans, we consume closer to 70-100 grams per day.

Converting to a completely plant-based diet may seem out of reach for you, but it isn’t as hard as you may think. It does require a little meal planning and, perhaps, the testing out of some new recipes. The evidence is convincing; the closer we can move towards a more plant-based diet, the better it is for us and the better it is for the planet.

Overnight Oats

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup nondairy milk
  • 1 cup berries
  • 1/2 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 Tbsp coconut nectar or pure maple syrup
  • pinch of sea salt (optional)

In a bowl or large jar, combine the oats, berries, nondairy milk, chia seeds, nectar or syrup, and salt.

Cover and refrigerate overnight (or for at least several hours).

Serve with more milk to thin, if desired, and also consider other toppings including bananas, a sprinkle of cocoa, nuts, coconut, hemp, or pumpkin seeds.

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