The Environment and Us
When you’re studying holistic nutrition, it’s sort of hard to not become an environmentalist. I feel as though it comes with job, not only to educate others, but to do my part to help preserve the earth. We live in a symbiotic relationship with plants (recall back to grade school when you learned about photosynthesis), we breathe out carbon dioxide which the plants breathe in and in return give us oxygen. Plants are also a major source of our nutrients, so it’s important that we do what we can to preserve the environment to continue this cycle. There are a lot of changes going on in the world right now with corporations that threaten our natural state (ahem, GMOs) that can leave some of us feeling helpless. Fear not, there are simple things you can do to not only improve your nutrition, but also help preserve the earth.
Besides opting to buy organic, local and seasonal foods (something I’ve discussed in previous articles here), my biggest tip I can give to anyone, is to simply be more conscious of your food sources. Know where your food is coming from. This is the food you’re putting into your body, this is what is contributing to your health as well as the health of your family and the environment.
Conventional Meat Production
A big strain on the environment is from conventional meat production, which comes from factory farms. Besides the inhumane treatment of animals, and unhygienic conditions, the resources required to farm these animals are taxing our available land resource pool. A huge amount of space is required to “raise” these animals (these practices also tend to overcrowd, leading to health hazards galore). The land requirement leads to the threat of deforestation, which eventually leads to loss of biodiversity. Besides space for breeding pens, there is a required increase in the production of grains for feed (an unnatural diet for these animals, usually consisting of GMO corn) which also requires more land to grow. Both the grain and animals require water; it’s said for each pound of beef upwards of 5000 gallons of water is required.
A Vegetable Based Diet (doesn’t mean you have to completely stop eating meat)
As someone who chooses not to consume meat, I understand, not everyone wants to eliminate meat from their diet. I also recognize that we’re all biochemically unique. However, a diet high in meat is linked with inflammation, fatty plaque buildup in the arteries, as well as acidity. The action of reducing your intake of meat by focusing on vegetables as the main dish and not consuming meat at every meal can make a huge difference. Ever hear of “Meat free Mondays” where one day a week you eat vegetarian (or vegan)? For some it may sound crazy, but consider it a challenge. Let it be a chance to explore new recipes and get creative. After all, it’s only one day a week.
Preparing Your Food
I highly recommend taking this challenge to the kitchen and learn to make food from scratch. Healthy, satisfying meals don’t have to take hours to prepare. By making food yourself, you’ll be reducing waste since the food won’t be coming in plastic wrapped bags sealed in cardboard boxes. You’ll also be eliminating additives – many like methanol, a wood alcohol found in aspartame, doesn’t even belong in food. There are 3000+ food additives that can be found in prepackaged food, and only about 15% are tested! I realise that for people always on the go this is a hard switch to make, but start small. Bring leftovers to lunch, have snack items like nuts & seeds, fruit and cut up veggies ready to grab. This isn’t a 100% or nothing, do what you can – eventually it’ll become habit. Remember when brushing your teeth was a huge chore but now it’s just part of your daily routine – well it’s sort of like that. There are many resources and recipes online (just check out the ones listed through this website) – find ones that suit your taste buds.
Getting Back to Basics
Being environmentally conscious on a food perspective really comes down to being aware, being active and being responsible. Even though many people may feel it’s a lot of work, it’s really about being simplistic and going back to the basics. With the bounty of fresh produce becoming available, now is a great time to start including more produce while learning some new skills in the kitchen. It might even be the perfect opportunity to show everyone your newfound kitchen wizardry at the next picnic or dinner party.
The 30 Day Nutrition Challenge Online Courses are a full-on supportive program to inspire you and assist you in eating consciously. We jump into all aspects of health- from nutrition and diet, to cooking and recipes, to how to emotionally and spiritually sustain this healthy lifestyle.
For more information check out these documentaries: Food, Inc (2008) Food Matters (2008) Forks Over Knives (2011)
Articles: http://www.ewg.org/release/ewg-meat-eater-s-guide-spotlights-meat-s-outsize-carbon-footprint http://www.naturalnews.com/034172_food_additives_ingredients.html http://www.naturalnews.com/035382_aspartame_side_effects_headaches.html
Alison Klektau is currently a student at The Institute of Holistic Nutrition in Vancouver where she is studying to earn her certification as a Registered Holistic Nutritionist. It is her passion to educate others on the power of eating a plant-based whole foods diet while incorporating regular exercise, as she believes in a mind-body approach. Previous to that, Alison earned her BFA in Theatre and Film Studies from the University of Victoria.