With an increased focus on preserving invaluable natural resources and ensuring the future health of the environment, many consumers are paying closer attention to their dietary choices and how they can be more sustainable. Food production contributes approximately 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions, with almost half coming from livestock alone. Further, food production accounts for 70% of water use and 40% of land use placing a heavy burden on our planet! As the population continues to grow, how can we responsibly nourish generations to come?
Promoting the health of our bodies and environment, the cornerstone of a sustainable diet is incorporating plant-based meals. Conserving natural resources and reducing the carbon footprint associated with raising livestock, plant based diets are rich in whole grains; everything from barley and brown rice to quinoa and oats. The cultivation and harvesting of grain products requires far fewer natural resources than meat production and reduces soil erosion. Think of a classic hamburger-while the beef patty requires almost 200 gallons of water, it takes less than seven gallons to produce the bun. Further, by rotating crops such as barley, rye, and oats, nutrients are returned to the soil which enhances its viability and overall health. Ancient grains including quinoa, amaranth, and teff were staple crops of civilization in Asia, Africa, and South America. Grown in harsh environments without the use of modern irrigation, pesticides, and fertilizers, these grains remain extremely resilient; thriving in extremes of temperature and minimal amounts of water.
Just one meatless meal a day helps to improve the sustainability of our planet; start by incorporating whole grains at breakfast with a bowl of oatmeal, a quinoa and chickpea stir fry for lunch, or a brown rice pilaf for dinner.