The theme around which World Health Day is celebrated this year is: Our Planet, Our Home.
This year’s theme centers around how the impact we leave on the environment is directly proportional to the consequences it has on our health.
According to WHO (World Health Organization) more than 13 million deaths around the world each year are due to avoidable environmental causes. This includes the climate crisis which is the single biggest health threat facing humanity. The climate crisis is also a health crisis.
This article aims to break down the simple formula of how your choice of food not only influences your personal health but also, has a powerful impact on the global environment.
Meat and Climate Change
A rapid rise in greenhouse gas emissions has led to an increase in the temperature of the Earth which is about 1.1 °C higher than in the 1800s. 2011-2020 was also recorded as the warmest decade by the United Nations.
Among the umpteen reasons for global warming, animal husbandry and the livestock industry are some of the most underrated. In 2006, the UN released a report stating that cattle rearing is responsible for producing even more greenhouse gases than transportation. That is every car, train, ship and airplane combined. It urged that smarter production methods including improved animal diets can help mitigate the methane emissions and is the need of the hour. A 2019 report has also asked people to eat less meat and dairy to help combat climate change.
How can Veganism help end the Climate Crisis?
Over 80% of the world’s farmland is used to feed farm animals which is a staggering percentage in itself, but a shocking aspect is that it only produces 18% of the world’s calories. Grazing and animal rearing are the leading causes of deforestation and food wastage. Also, the cows that are bred for meat and dairy, produce methane, a greenhouse gas that is 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide. India is the 4th largest producer of beef and the 3rd largest producer of methane in the world.
What most of us do not understand is that the consequences of climate change can be detrimental and catastrophic. It is more than just warmer temperatures, it includes intense droughts, water scarcity, severe fires, rising sea levels, flooding, melting polar ice, catastrophic storms and declining biodiversity. All of which affect the health of the human population in many ways.
We can avert climate change with a small shift in our diet. Oxford Martin researchers found out that if the world went vegan by 2050, it could save 8 million human lives, reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture by two-thirds and lead to healthcare-related savings, and avoid climate damages of $1.5 trillion.
What we have upon us is not an issue, but a Climate Crisis.
What’s the good part?
We are already equipped with solutions. One being switching to a vegan diet or reducing our meat and dairy consumption.
Veganism and Personal Health
Eight-in-ten people in India limit their meat intake and four-in-ten consider themselves vegetarian. Roughly about 39% of Indians call themselves vegetarians. Dairy ranks at the top in terms of consumption amongst the Indian population as compared to meat, dairy and eggs. So transitioning to a vegan diet should not be as difficult for Indians. Right?
However, one of the major concerns that people have while considering a vegan diet is will it suffice? Our dependency and conditioning have made us believe that animal products are a necessity to fuel our survival; which is a false notion.
World-renowned doctors and physicians have agreed that a vegan diet is completely adequate to fulfill the daily requirements of all macro and micronutrients across all age groups, as well as, during pregnancy and breastfeeding. However, regardless of whether one is vegan or not, a well-balanced diet is the only way to achieve optimal nutrition, along with supplementation, as and when required particularly for vitamin D and vitamin B12.
Modern researchers have also studied the impact of a plant-based diet on health and ailments. In their research, it is seen that a well-balanced plant-based diet reduces the risk of chronic illnesses and may even play role in aging and extension of lifespan. This evidence shows us that a vegan diet can support healthy living. In fact, research has linked the vegan diet with lower body mass index and rates of obesity, which helps to explain other associations found in some studies like – lower blood pressure and cholesterol and lower rates of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Thus, both the British Dietetic Association and the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recognize that a vegan diet can support healthy living in people of all ages and during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
It is Urgent!
‘Our Planet, Our Home’ is a call for urgent action on all the human activities that are responsible for pollution and the climate crisis. We need to radically transform the system in order to avert climate change instead of incremental shifts. Veganism is one giant leap in the right direction.
Adapting a vegan lifestyle can start with steps as small as giving up meat a few days of the week or cooking one vegan meal a day.
Also, educating yourself on a regular basis about the new plant-based alternatives you can choose from can help your transition faster. It is also important to consume a variety of foods to make sure your nutrient intake is optimum.
Veganism and Unived
In 2010, with the hope to drive change, Unived, a Vegan Healthcare and Supplements company, was founded by Amit Mehta. The idea was to offer the purest, most natural, vegan supplements of the finest quality. The foundation was built around three integral principles:
- Never compromise on quality, ever;
- Be completely transparent with our stakeholders, our consumers, and
- Never use any animal derived ingredients.
Unived now fuels individuals of all ages around the globe, not just India, with quality vegan nutrition.
Adapting to a Vegan lifestyle may seem challenging, here are some resources that might help:
The Vegan Society: https://www.vegansociety.com
- Corichi. M (July 8, 2021). Eight-in-ten Indians limit meat in their diets, and four-in-ten consider themselves vegetarian. (Pew Research Center) https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2021/07/08/eight-in-ten-indians-limit-meat-in-their-diets-and-four-in-ten-consider-themselves-vegetarian/