If someone were to ask me one critical thing they could do right now to help the environment, apart from dropping single-use plastics, I would suggest to them to be more aware of the food on their plates. You know, to eat like you give a f***. Like, where the heck did your food come from? Who grew it? How did they grow it? And...how does its production impact the environment?
Where Does Your Food Come From?
Most of us can't answer these questions when we stare down at our breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It came from "the grocery store...the restaurant's kitchen...I dunno?" And I don't blame anyone. It's hard in today's day and age. Nobody makes it easy to track where our food comes from, unless you go to a farmer's market and buy everything there (Week 1 Challenge, heyo!). Week 3's challenge is about recognizing the difficulty of tracking the story of our food - and realizing that most of the time, it's easier to be mindful of your environmental footprint if you eat a vegan meal. This challenge can be adjusted to fit where you're at on your mindful eating journey. Are you a full-on omnivore? Start with one vegan meal a week. Already dabbling? How about one meal a day?
Plant-based Food is Freakin' Beautiful to Look At
I think it’s high time that every human was able to experience the beauty, and excitement, of sitting down to a colorful meal full of locally-grown vegetables, whole grains, and plant-based goodness. There are a lot of obstacles to living a vegan lifestyle, but I think there are way WORSE obstacles to not leading a (somewhat) vegan lifestyle. The best part is, if you put aside any mental blocks you have about eating "vegan" or "plant-based" and wave goodbye to any fears that you'll die without meat or cheese or dairy or the food won't fill you up or taste good - I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. You can have all sorts of vegan goodness. Look! Vegan pizza and spinach & artichoke dip!
Forget for a second about the vegan-based lifestyle being “good for your body," because I know some will disagree. I know plenty of people quite passionate about an animal-protein rich paleo or keto diet. But bear with me and try and focus on the environmental benefits of a vegan diet…or even choosing to go plant-based for one, two, three, four meals out of the week. If everyone in the U.S. did that? Holy shit. It’d be epic. Why? Check out the PETA infographic below.
What Is Veganism?
So what is veganism? No animal products. No meat. No dairy. No eggs. Some say no honey. It’s what you make of it, really, but the point is, eating this way is SO good for the earth. It's not going to solve all of our problems, and sure, it may have its own environmental issues associated with it, but the point I'm trying to get across is that, by any degree, it is environmentally beneficial to eat less meat and dairy. Try to treat it like a luxury. Not the norm. Your body will probably enjoy the benefits from it too (hello, glowing skin and more energy!).
See, Not That Scary
Are you in? YOU'RE AWESOME. But where to start? If you don't like cooking but want to try a vegan meal, check out Happy Cow. It's a cool website that searches for vegan dining options in your area.
Want to cook up a vegan meal yourself? It is SUCH a fun way to take ownership of what's going into your body. Here's one of my favorite vegan food bloggers, The Minimalist Baker; she's got all sorts of suggestions for you!
Or just buy this hilarious vegan cookbook. Seriously. Vegan or not, this book will make you crack up and the food is damn delicious. "Eat like you give a f***."
Believe You Can Do It
I have all of the faith in you. You've got this. If you want to know more about the science behind veganism, a quick google search will do you well. You'll find advocates for going vegan. You'll find advocates against it. All I can tell you is from my own personal experience, I feel like a million bucks eating plant-based. Sure, I have the occasional artisan pizza. I'm not perfect. But I feel good about what I'm doing.
Isn't that what going green is all about?