WHY YOU SHOULD BE EATING LESS MEAT

Photo by Dominic Dreier

Photo by Dominic Dreier

        I became vegan 3 years ago, after 4 years as a vegetarian, because I care deeply for the environment and wildlife. The decision arose from a startling awareness of the need for a drastic change in my consumption habits and society’s as a whole. I realized, in the beginning, that I could make a positive impact by changing the way I consumed each day. I no longer use plastic bags, stopped purchasing products with biologically harmful chemicals, boycott products with palm oil, and gave up fast, unethical fashion. The most important change I made, however, was with food. I realized that, by giving up animal products for good, I could make a positive change, 3 times a day, 365 days a year.

        Despite these personal lifestyle choices, the motivation for environmental progress on a broader scale lags sorrily behind. The little things that we, as individuals, have been doing to help mitigate global warming are simply not enough. Meatless Monday, an international campaign that encourages people to not eat meat on Mondays (1), while commendable for participants, is not enough to neutralize the massive scale of environmental damage already done. According to the UNDP, “The planet's surface temperature has increased an average of 0.85 °C from 1880-2012, and during the past year, measurements taken across the globe during various periods have reported abnormally high temperatures.” July 2016 for example, was the hottest month on record – ever (2).” 

        Carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas that usually comes to mind with regard to climate change, is not the greatest gaseous emission causing rising temperatures. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, “Methane is even worse for global warming than carbon dioxide is. “For example, over a 100-year time horizon, one metric ton of methane and 21 metric tons of carbon dioxide trap an equal amount of heat in the atmosphere (3).” If methane has 21 times more global warming potential (GWP) than carbon dioxide, we need much stricter regulations on animal agricultural industries and innovative approaches, such as permaculture, to make the industry cleaner (4). Industry responds to the demands of the people, therefore, society as a whole must insist on greater change. Giving up meat once a week is not enough. To safely limit the increase in global mean temperature to 2°C above pre-industrial levels, we must commit to eating less meat every day.

"According to the IPCC, “Methane is even worse for global warming than carbon dioxide is." / Photo of a cattle farm and its waste lagoon in Dalhart- Texas 2013 by  Mishka Henner  titled "feeder"

"According to the IPCC, “Methane is even worse for global warming than carbon dioxide is." / Photo of a cattle farm and its waste lagoon in Dalhart- Texas 2013 by Mishka Henner titled "feeder"

         Well intended agricultural practices of the past century were designed to enrich people’s lives by ensuring adequate nutrition, warmth, and a dignified living space. Such practices were expanded and widely adopted by developing countries who gladly subsidized their establishment in the name of progress. In the second half of the 20th century, however, scientists concluded that many of these same industries are major contributors to environmental destruction and contamination (5), and not the saving grace once hoped for. Industrialized animal agriculture is a prime example. “Domestic livestock such as cattle, buffalo, sheep, goats, and camels produce large amounts of methane as part of their normal digestive process. Also, when animals' manure is stored or managed in lagoons or holding tanks, methane is produced. Globally, the Agriculture sector is the primary source of methane emissions (6).” 

        Methane output, however, is not the only contributor of animal agriculture to climate change. The practice has negative impacts on our planet in many ways. Producing animal products for human consumption provides fewer calories than if we ate the feed crops ourselves [see table (7)]. Corn and soy production necessary to feed cattle, chicken, and pigs require tremendous input from fossil fuels, as well as substantial quantities of fresh water – itself a scarce commodity in drought stricken areas. “In 2011, 41 countries experienced water stress – 10 of which are close to depleting their supply of renewable freshwater and must now rely on alternative sources. By 2050, it is projected that at least one in four people will be affected by recurring water shortages (2).” Deforestation is happening on a global scale as oxygen producing, CO2 scouring trees are eradicated from the landscape to make room for crops and pasture land (8).

            Sewage runoff from industrialized animal agriculture is another problem for our environment and global temperature. Leakage from Manure lagoons and holding tanks can enter fresh water systems, creating dead zones around the world, and increase acidification of our oceans. Despite being landlocked they indirectly contribute to the bleaching of our coral reefs and are making our oceans uninhabitable for marine life (9). Oceans are already over-fished. According to the WWF Living Planet Report, “Factory fishing has emptied the seas of 40 percent of sea life, and nine out of 10 fisheries in the world are either overfished or full-fished today (10). The last thing we need to is eat more fish in place of pork or beef.

pHOTO detail OF A CATTLE FARM and ITS WASTE runoff into a manure AGOON -DALHART, TEXAS 2013 / BY  MISHKA HENNER  TITLED "FEEDER"

pHOTO detail OF A CATTLE FARM and ITS WASTE runoff into a manure AGOON -DALHART, TEXAS 2013 / BY MISHKA HENNER TITLED "FEEDER"

        The underlying cause of global warming is complex to say the least. The way our consumption choices affect the ecological balance in one part of the world, they can also affect natural systems across the globe [e.g. Greenland’s Ice Sheets (11)]. Global Warming is the largest threat to humanity and our entire planet, and we created it ourselves by doing too little or nothing at all. Of course, we were not alone. The opportunistic enthusiasm and financial backing of giant corporations operating worldwide are leading us to a future Earth that is uninhabitable for wildlife and humans alike. Our individual decisions do make a difference, and every effort to affect change counts, but we cannot tackle this battle without more far-reaching changes in our daily lives. 

        Meatless Monday, albeit a step in the right direction, is no longer enough. We can move beyond excessive animal product consumption with balanced diets that do not include meat at all. But we also need fast, global action from those in power to support these changes. Global Industry and agriculture must move beyond meat as the source of their profits. Individuals, once educated and driven to demand change, can only do that: demand change. Governments, united to save life as we know it, are the crucial force behind meaningful progress. Together with action from those in power we can stop this planetary disaster.


REFERENCES:

1. “Why Meatless? - Meatless Monday.” Retrieved November 01, 2016, from http://www.meatlessmonday.com/about-us/why-meatless/

2. UNDP (2016). “Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.” Retrieved November 01, 2016, from http://www.by.undp.org/content/belarus/en/home/post-2015/sdg-overview/goal-13.html

3. IPCC/WMO/UNEP. "Climate Change 1995: Impacts, Adaptation, and Mitigation of Climate Change: Scientific-Technical Analyses." Prepared by IPCC Working Group II. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1996.

4. Holmgren, David (1997). "Weeds or Wild Nature" (PDF). Permaculture International Journal. Retrieved 10 September 2011.

5. Contaminants in the Environment. Retrieved November 01, 2016, from http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/observations/contam/

6. EPA (2010). Methane and Nitrous Oxide Emissions from Natural Sources. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, USA.

7. ASN, J. S. (2014). Sustainability of plant-based diets: Back to the future. Retrieved November 01, 2016, from http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/100/Supplement_1/476S.full

8. Mongabay. (2016). Amazon Destruction: direct drivers of deforestation in Amazon countries. Retrieved November 01, 2016, from http://rainforests.mongabay.com/amazon/amazon_destruction.html

9. Garling, B. (2015, February 12). What’s the role of factory farming in ocean degradation? Retrieved November 01, 2016, from https://www.mission-blue.org/2015/02/whats-the-role-of-mass-animal-agriculture-in-ocean-degradation/

10. 60 percent of global wildlife species wiped out. (2016, October 28). Retrieved November 01, 2016, from http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/10/60-percent-global-wildlife-species-wiped-161027151043413.html

11. Milman, O. (2016, March 04). Greenland's ice melt accelerating as surface darkens, raising sea levels. Retrieved November 01, 2016, from https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/mar/03/greenland-ice-sheet-melting-global-warming-feedback-loop

Find out more about Conference of Parties (COPs) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) here: LINK ,and more about the work that the UNDP is doing here : LINK

 ***This article is part of a collaboration between the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Ethical Writers Coalition.

Tascosa Cattle Feed Yard In Bushland, Texas 2013 by  Mishka Henner

Tascosa Cattle Feed Yard In Bushland, Texas 2013 by Mishka Henner

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Renee Peters

Renee Peters is a NYC-based model, blogger, and advocate of mindful, sustainable living. She strives to be a role model by using her platform for positive change. Through her blog, Model4GreenLiving, Peters seeks to reshape the way people think about environmental issues and provide practical tips and everyday actions for readers.  Peters uses social media to promote that same message, as well as one of self-love and body-positivity. She also volunteers, is an environmental activist, and is an avid learner of anything relating to the planet and its health. For booking inquires visit Muse Models NYC or Nomad Management Miami.

FALL IN LOVE WITH THE SUPER FOODS OF FALL (PART II)

Ginger

Fresh Ginger_Model4greenliving

     Known to aid in digestion, relieve symptoms of nausea, treat severe menstrual pain, and reduce inflammation, ginger is an amazing food to incorporate in your diet year round.

     Ginger contains both phenols and gingerols. The phenolic compounds in ginger help relieve irritation in the stomach and intestines, and aid in digestion by stimulating saliva and bile production. Chewing raw ginger or drinking ginger tea helps treat nausea naturally, and is commonly used by pregnant women experiencing morning sickness. Gingerols, naturally occurring oils in ginger, are potent anti-inflammatories, and fresh ginger has been used for centuries to reduce inflammation. Recent studies have shown that ginger may help treat more serious inflammatory conditions such as Cancer, although further research is necessary. For women experiencing severe pain with menstruation, ground ginger taken in the form of capsules has been shown reduce the pain's severity.

     Ginger root is typically harvested in then fall and winter months. Freshly cut ginger is a perfect addition to tea, and as temperatures begin to drop hot beverages are more and more appealing.  Lemon-ginger Green Tea is one of my favorite nutrition-packed beverages for fall, and can help boost our immune systems for the "cold and flu season" ahead. 

Kale

fresh kale_model4greenliving.jpg

     Kale is one of my favorite dark, leafy greens. Commonly harvested in the fall, it provides a wide variety of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Incorporating kale into your diet can aid in digestion, improve issues associated with diabetes, help protect again bone fractures, and maintain healthy skin and hair. 

     The high amount of fiber in kale ( g per serving), along with its high water content, helps promote digestive health and prevent constipation. High fiber diets have been proven to reduce blood-glucose levels, and may even improve the lives of Type 2 diabetics by stabilizing blood sugar, insulin, and lipid levels. Kale also contains the antioxidant alpha-lipoic acid, which has been found to lower glucose levels while also increasing insulin sensitivity. The high amount of vitamin K found in kale (550 micrograms: 680% of our daily requirements) improves calcium absorption and strengthens bone matrix proteins, helping protect against bone fractures. Our skin and hair benefit from eating kale as well. Collagen levels are maintained best when vitamin C is readily available from sources such as kale. Having adequate collagen helps skin stay supple and hair remain strong. Skin also benefits from kale, because it contains high amounts of vitamin A and iron. 

    Eaten cooked (in soups, stews, or stir-fry) or raw (in salads or as a taco-topper), kale incorporated into your diet can benefit health year-round.

Mushrooms

Fresh Mushrooms_Model4greenliving

     Mushrooms aren’t plants so they don’t contain the phytonutrients (nutrients specific to plants such as beta-carotene) associated with my other “Superfoods of Fall”. They do however provide immense nutritional value from the vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients they contain.

     Mushrooms have a higher level of antioxidants than many plants, including green peppers and zucchinis, due to their high levels of polyphenols.  One powerful micronutrient found in high concentrations in mushrooms is the antioxidant ergothioneine. Cooking actually releases this powerful nutrient from the mushroom cells, and increases its anti-inflammatory effects. Mushrooms are a common part of homeopathic medicine and have been used in natural remedies for centuries. Certain compounds in mushrooms are now being studied scientifically by researchers to determine their anti-inflammatory effects. A few of the bioactive compounds discovered include polysaccharides, phenolic compounds, steroids, and lectins. 

     Along with the antioxidants listen above, mushrooms are also a good source of B vitamins (niacin, pantothenic acid, and riboflavin) and contain the minerals iron, and selenium. Mushrooms contain no fat, are low in carbohydrates, and high in fiber. They are a definite “superfood” to include in your diet this Fall.

Rutabagas

Fresh Rutabagas_Model4greenliving

     Rutabaga, first discovered growing wild in Sweden, are cruciferous vegetables related to broccoli, cabbage and kale. They are a root vegetable harvested in the fall and have a similartaste to turnips. They are a great source of potassium and phosphorus, vitamin C and iron, and also the cancer-fighting substance glucosinolate. Rutabaga is wonderful cooked and served warm like mashed potatoes, cooked in soups and stews, or eaten raw as a salad topper to add a bit of crunch.

     Potassium found in rutabaga (8% RDA in one cooked-cup) aids in protein and carbohydrate metabolism, and helps maintain proper fluid balance in the body. Rutabaga also contain 10% of your daily recommendation for phosphorous. Phosphorus aids in the metabolism and synthesis of proteins, and is an important mineral to maintain strong bones. Proper neurotransmitter function and collagen production both require adequate levels of vitamin C. 20-30% of your daily vitamin C requirements can come from eating just one serving of this “super food”. The vitamin C in rutabaga also allows for greater absorption of iron. One rutabaga contains about 5% of your daily needs. 

     Rutabaga has proven beneficial in protecting against cancer-causing carcinogens, and even aids in the reduction of colon and prostate cancers. Cruciferous vegetables, such as rutabagas, are excellent sources of sulfur-containing substances called glucosinolates. These compounds are responsible for the bitter taste and pungent aroma of cruciferous vegetables. According to the Linus Pauling Institute, glucosinolates may help eliminate carcinogens before they can damage DNA or alter certain cell-signaling pathways. In turn, normal cells aren't transformed into cancerous cells.

     Mild and sweet, rutabaga is a great comfort food for fall.

 
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Renee Peters

Renee Peters is a NYC-based model, blogger, and advocate of mindful, sustainable living. She strives to be a role model by using her platform for positive change. Through her blog, Model4GreenLiving, Peters seeks to reshape the way people think about environmental issues and provide practical tips and everyday actions for readers.  Peters uses social media to promote that same message, as well as one of self-love and body-positivity. She also volunteers, is an environmental activist, and is an avid learner of anything relating to the planet and its health. For booking inquires visit Muse Models NYC or Nomad Management Miami.

WHAT IS THE MACROBIOTIC DIET?

HISTORY OF MACROBIOTIC:

      The Macrobiotic diet goes all the way back to the late 16th century. It was first mentioned in Christoph Wilhelm Hufeland's book The Art of Prolonging Human Life (1797).  It was  expanded in the late 19th century by doctor Sagen Ishizuka. He conducted clinical trials on thousands of Japanese patients and eventually used these overwhelmingly successsful results to help found his association, "Shokuyo" in 1907.

BASIC PRINCIPLES:

      "Japanese macrobiotics emphasizes locally grown whole grain cereals, legumes, vegetables, seaweed, fermented soy and other vegetables, as well as fruits." It is based on the idea of yin and yang. Certain foods are considered more Yin: "expansive, light and cold", and others are considered more Yang: "compact, dense, heavy, and hot" (wikipedia).
 
yin and yang quinoa_macrobiotic
 
 

     The Macrobiotic diet seeks to maintain optimum balance in the body by combining the foods we eat so that there is an equal amount of yin and yang in every meal. It also recognizes that the body needs different types of foods at different times of the year. This is why there is a high emphasis on eating seasonally and locally.

 

THE GUIDELINES TO MACROBIOTIC:

 

PRINCIPLE FOODS

-Whole Grians 30%

-Vegetables 35%

-Beans and Tempeh 10% 

Secondary foods:

-Fruits 10%

-Oils, Nuts, and Seeds 10%

Other foods/beverages:

(herbal teas, vegetable juices, and lots of water, Fermented foods (kim chee, sauerkraut, pickles, miso, etc) and Seaweed) 5%

YIN/YANG and BALANCED FOODS Chart:

*Aim to eat as close to the middle of the chart shown above as possible  (under Mininal Yang and Minimal Ying columns).

FOOD TO AVOID:

     -Dairy (milk, cheese, cream, ghee, whey, yogurt, and ice cream) -   Animal proteins (meat, eggs, gelatin) -White/ brown sugar, maple syrup, corn syrup, and other refined sweeteners -Processed fruit juices from concentrate -Refined oils -Alcohol -White Rice -White Flour -Artificial Chemicals, preservatives, and dyes.

 

SEASONAL MEAL EXAMPLES:

Winter Meal

Vegan Mushroom Risotto .jpg

VEGAN BROWN RICE RISOTTO WITH STEAMED ASPARAGUS

Summer Meal

Macro Salad Slight Yin.jpg

RAW VEGAN SPINACH SALAD WITH ALFALFA SPROUTS, CUCUMBER, CARROT, AND TOMATO

THE TAKEAWAY

     Choose most of your food based up the "Slight Yang" and "Slight Yin" columns (80%). The other colums "Moderate Yang" and "Moderate Yin" should compromise the rest of your diet (20%).

     As a vegan I choose to abstain from the foods in the "Extreme Yang" or "Very Yang" Column as well as the cheese, cream, yogurt, and butter from the "Very Yin" column.The only thing from the "Extreme Yin" column that have chosen to include in my diet is caffeine.

     Thank you for reading,

 

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Renee Peters

Renee Peters is a NYC-based model, blogger, and advocate of mindful, sustainable living. She strives to be a role model by using her platform for positive change. Through her blog, Model4GreenLiving, Peters seeks to reshape the way people think about environmental issues and provide practical tips and everyday actions for readers.  Peters uses social media to promote that same message, as well as one of self-love and body-positivity. She also volunteers, is an environmental activist, and is an avid learner of anything relating to the planet and its health. For booking inquires visit Muse Models NYC or Nomad Management Miami.