How your diet is affecting our environment

Taylor Crumley, Staff Intern

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What if I told you that your diet impacts our environment? The things that you choose to eat can make a difference in the sustainability of our world. Climate change and pollution are the two biggest environmental factors influenced by our diet.

Eating animal products requires an immense amount of land, food, energy and water. The animal agriculture industry alone uses one-third of the world’s fresh water. Animal grazing uses 30 percent of the world’s total land area, and these statistics are going nowhere but up. According to TIME Magazine, “There may be no other single human activity that has a bigger impact on the planet than the raising of livestock.”

In order to plan for a more sustainable future, a flexitarian diet is being encouraged by scientists, according to BBC News. A flexitarian diet is essentially a more conservative and sustainable approach to eating. It falls in the middle of a traditional western diet and a vegan diet.

In recent years, it has become a social movement to follow a vegan, or plant-based, diet and more people are becoming aware of this trend. According to Food Revolution, only 1 percent of U.S. consumers claimed to be vegan in 2014 — that number is now 6 percent, as of 2017.

Although the near 600 percent growth in the past three years is astonishing, the vegan lifestyle has received backlash. The average American consumer often views a vegan diet as something that is unattainable and would never give it a chance. There has been quite a bit of criticism and skepticism surrounding the vegan diet in America, giving it a bad reputation.

This is where the flexitarian approach to eating was developed. The flexitarian diet is a more realistic and attainable diet for people who would never think about going vegan. It consists of only one serving of red meat per week and focuses on getting calories from mostly plants, having at least one vegetarian day per week. Having this less intense, but still impactful, outlook on our diet is what will make change.

“I’d love to dedicate a day to being vegetarian,” said Oakland University junior Cameron Kesto of the flexitarian diet.

However, he further stated he would be much less likely to commit to a full vegan diet.

This conservative diet change takes action against not only animal cruelty, but also the outlook of our future. It is one of the key steps that we must take in order to create a more sustainable environment. Unlike the vegan diet, the flexitarian diet is more suitable for all lifestyles.

According to Earth Day, “If the entire U.S. did not eat meat or cheese for just one day a week, it would be the equivalent of taking 7.6 million cars off the road.”

Our global appetite keeps growing, but our world remains the same size. If all seven billion of us make a small change, it will lead to a promising future.