More on synergy.
There is a growing awareness in our country of being energy-independent to address national security and environmental damage. There is also another national dialogue taking place on health care.
I believe that these issues are inter-related. The choices we make in our every day lives have profound and interdependent impacts on the world we live in. It starts very simply with the food we eat and the energy we use.
For instance, a diet high in red meat and other animal products uses tons more fossil fuels than a plant-based diet. Corn to feed the animal has to be grown; non-organic fertilizers are mostly petroleum based, need to be transported to the farm (sadly likely to be a factory-farm warehouse, not rural sprawling acreage). Corn fields and animal farms need to be irrigated—this all takes fuel. Cows and pigs aren’t made to digest corn, but grass. So they belch and fart a lot after eating all that corn and sorghum, releasing more methane into the air than all the automobiles in Europe. The animal then needs to be transported to slaughter and market. Additional processing—making into frozen entrees, etc. requires more steps. And once digested, this animal-based food product has not only belched greenhouse gasses into the air, but also increases your chances of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and a host of other health problems that are driving our health care costs wild.
You don’t need to be vegan or vegetarian, but becoming aware of the consequences of a plant-based versus meat-based diet can save more fossil fuels than the type of car you drive. This awareness can also help you to get more in touch with the food you are putting into your body, where it is grown, and how it gets to be on your plate. I am convinced that one of the most significant drains on our economy is the consequence of poor food choices, such as a diet high in meat-consumption or processed foods. Cooking a nutritious meal for yourself and your family can be the greenest thing you can do, probably even more important than the car you drive or who you vote for.
Use these simple steps to help you make lifestyle choices that can help your health, the environment, and the health issues you have or don't have in later life:
1) Try going vegetarian or vegan one day a week. If you can do more than that, great. You may be surprised at how easy it is. Simple menu ideas can be oatmeal for breakfast, split-pea soup for lunch, a handful of walnuts for a mid-afternoon snack, and whole-wheat pasta with pesto sauce with a side-salad for dinner. Notice how your body feels when you wake up the next morning.
2) When you have meat, make sure it’s the smallest portion on your plate. For instance, if you are eating a steak, try having a half-portion with a larger portion of side-vegetables. Drink a glass of water before you start eating.
3) Measure out the nutritional information you see on the labels of your processed foods. For instance, a serving of regular cola usually has as much sugar as nine packets of sugar. Would you ever add that to a cup of coffee or tea?
4) Processed foods have become great about lowering the fat in some of their foods, but too often make it up by adding astronomical amounts of sodium. Compare the serving size, portions, and percentage of recommended sodium on your food labels. No single meal should have more than 30% of your total sodium intake (assuming you are eating three meals a day and no salty snacks in between).
These simple steps can help you to get in touch with your body to make healthier choices. Our precious human bodies depend on our planet for sustenance; we can reciprocate by helping the planet with the choices we make in how we nourish ourselves.