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Oriane Schadegg

8 months ago

Ngo World

Environment & Nutrition: Save the Earth and your health

"We don’t inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children"

Reading this proverb we can expect the question that will probably be asked by future generations : « Why didn’t you do anything about it ? Â» 
How could we accept to watch people all over the world, from big companies to individuals, destroying the planet we live on along with its inhabitants, and not act on it ? This one will be hard to answer. We won’t dare say that we were fatalistic enough to believe that our personal actions couldn’t have any impact. That they wouldn’t make an difference if people around us weren’t doing the same. We know it would be wrong, because every change has to start somewhere, and this change has to start with us. In the way we buy and the way we consume, because this affects everything around us.

Here’s where we can take our first step : in our plates.

Today, we’re seeing healthy eating habits and lifestyle getting more and more interest, popularity and visibility from people all around the world - wether it’s on social media, in books, by influencers or other celebrities. And this is a good thing. Why? 
Because it’s an opportunity to join this ever growing movement. Indeed, taking good care of ourselves is the first action to take when it comes to saving the planet, because in doing so, we’re taking care of the environment at the same time. We know that our consumption has a direct impact on the environment. So how can something as « basic Â» as good nutrition can get us to help the earth? That’s easy. When we feed, we consume, and to consume, we have to choose. And the more demand there will be for the right kind of products, the more the production for it will have to increase. That’s when we have to make the right choices. We define sustainable development as one that insures satisfaction the current generations' needs without compromising those of the future generations. So, from a nutritional point of vue, sustainable development necessarily has to pass through ecological and healthy alimentary habits. These few easy changes will mean a healthy start for us and our body, but also a great deal for our planet.

EAT PLANT-BASED

We’re now all aware that one of the best ways to protect the environment is to eat in a way that would drastically reduce our intake in meat and other animal-based products, since their production is extremely demanding in terms of resources -water, energy and land, and is highly polluting -greenhouse effect gas, chemicals… .

Such an impact can be explained by two reasons :

Firstly, the amount of plant-based calories consumed by the animals is much more consequent than the ones they’ll be producing with their meat. Meaning that for the same amount of kg of « food Â» they will give humans, a cow (to take the worse one) will have to feed roughly about 6 times that amount of crops. This implies a tremendous waste of fertile lands, of energy, of water, of chemicals, not to talk about the food itself. With the food we are growing to feed livestock, we could be feeding other humans ! Same goes for water : if we took all of the water consumed in 11 days by the average person, we’d only be able to produce 1kg of bovine meat. cost of 1 kg beef Secondly, the greenhouses gases. On one hand, we have the use of raw materials and the waste of energy that indirectly creates these emissions. On the other, we have the defections and gas released by cows. The methane released by the cows is a greenhouse gas even more powerful than CO2 in matter of global warming. Added to that, animal agriculture is responsible for more than 3/4 of the deforestation for pasture and crops. If you count the land used for growing crops and the surface needed to raise the animals, it uses 30% of the Earth’s land mass. Let’s not forget that the forests are here not only to give us the oxygen we breathe, but also to stock the CO2 contained in the air. So when you burn trees, all of the gases escape back in the atmosphere again. These are just a few shocking facts about the environmental impact of intensive farming, and we will spare you the details here because we could go all night, but if you want to know more facts on the meat industry and the environment, you can read on here.

If not for the environment, for you

But now, let’s be positive. We can all change our habits to help reduce these impacts. Whether it’s a little change or a radical one, we have to reduce our animal intake and eat plant-based as much as we can. If we don’t do it for our planet, let’s at least do it for our health. The main causes of mortality in our countries are due to cardiac diseases and tumors, which we can easily fight with the right lifestyle and diet. And with a healthier diet comes better air quality, more water, an appropriate use of energy and sustainable food production. meat and cancer

CHOOSE ORGANIC

Choosing organic is choosing to protect the earth, water, air and biodiversity, because it’s based on the respect of the environment and its natural cycles. Although organic agriculture practices have lower yield than traditional ones, they reduce from 34 to 53% the use of fertilizers and energetic expenditures, and 97% of pesticide sprayings. We see that the advantages on reducing pollution and preserving the environment are undeniable. Moreover, choosing organic is also choosing to protect your health. By refusing to eat foods full of pesticides and GMOs, linked with several diseases such as cancer, we choose a higher nutritional value for our bodies, with a better balance of mineral and oligo elements. Our bodies are not made to ingest such products and chemicals, and therefore don’t really know how to assimilate them. That’s why by sticking with better quality products, we give our system the best we can and the ability to process the foods in a better way, that will make us fully enjoy the benefits of all the nutrients present in the food we eat.

BUY LOCAL, SEASONAL FRUITS & VEGETABLES

This one is actually more for the environment than it is for your health, because whatever fruits and vegetable you chose to eat (even more if you eat organic), they will benefit your body. But, even if it’s difficult to say no to the vast choice we have of produce coming from everywhere in the world, we have to keep in mind that they did not teleport themselves into the supermarket. The export, import and costs of transport are awful for the environment. Some of them make thousands of miles to end up in our plates, sacrificing air quality and pollution, without mentioning gases released from the transportations.

PREFER NON-PACKAGED PRODUCTS

We know this one is hard to manage, knowing almost every item comes with it. So if you can’t buy your fruits and vegetables at a local market, or find zero-waste or package-free shops near you, we suggest you reduce it as much as possible by preferring recyclable packages. Today, most of the wrap-ups are made of plastic, which is the most toxic material of all. Every piece of plastic ever created is still in existence, and that’s why we have to vote against it by what we consume. Not only does it end up in our oceans, killing our marine life and polluting our earth, but it affects health in several ways. In effect, it contains harmful chemicals, that are now present in the bloodstream and tissues of almost every human beings. So eating food that has been in contact with it is not something we would want to do.

OPT FOR REUSABLE BAGS & DRINK TAP WATER

This is on the same line as the plastic war we should be fighting against. Before our nations decide to totally ban plastic bags, we should do our part in bringing our own bags when we go out and buy something. Also, think of all of the plastic bottles you bought over the past years. Although it may seem like the easiest choice, to go and buy a bottle when you’re thirsty, it’s actually way better to just invest in one glass or other reusable bottle, and fill it up with tap water whenever you feel like it. Both of these options will actually be cheaper, more convenient and way better for our bodies and the planet.

THEY’RE DOING THEIR PART TOO - IMED VISION

One of the project we work with, iMED Vision, decided to join the food revolution too. They launched a sustainable food program for underprivileged children. 
They aim to change the children’s dietary habits by teaching them from an early stage how to eat properly and sustainably, getting them familiar with local and fresh products, on how to grow their own fruits and vegetables. They offer the kids three proper vegetarian meals a day. They also sensibilise the educators to do so, so everyone can be part of this change. If you’re curious to learn more about their food program and actions, click here. Down there you can see the videos of iMedVision's organisation on a larger scale. We are delighted that they’re sensitive about the environment !


 

In the end, this blog article is not about being pessimistic or saying we’re doing everything wrong. It’s meant to share and sensibilise about the issues surroundings nutrition and environment, and ideas about ways we can act together to change the game for the better. And if we are positive we will. So if you too have ideas on easy or not-so-easy way to act for the preservation of the environment for a better future, we want to hear it ! Leave us your thoughts on the comments section below !

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