Today Canada celebrates the 46th edition of Earth Day, an occasion which honours the importance of our planet and turns the world’s attention to pressing environmental issues. Whether you are a passionate environmentalist or not, Earth Day is the one day of the year where it makes sense to go that extra mile to make environmentally friendly food and drink choices.
The food choices that humans make have a significant impact on the wellbeing of the earth and the environment, and it is important for us to at least understand that our actions have consequences for our planet.
On that note, today’s article will introduce you to 4 choices you can make this Earth Day to contribute to a healthier planet.
Hold the animal products: Most of us love to eat meat, dairy and eggs, and I absolutely include myself in this category. The reality is, however, that raising animals for their meat and their milk has a massive impact on our environment. It requires an unimaginable amount of grain, water and land to raise animals for agricultural purposes and there is no question that this puts a great strain on our earth. Not to mention the impact of the animal waste and excrement. For this Earth Day, do yourself and the earth a favour and hold off on meat and dairy. Even if it’s only for the day, give tofu, beans and soymilk a try instead, you just might find one of your new favourite foods.
Tap into your drinks: Whether you are at home or at a restaurant, opt for tap rather than bottled beverages. Many people that I encounter are already very good about doing this, so much so that it has encouraged me to cut down on my own water bottle consumption. I urge you to do the same this earth day and beyond, whether you happen to be drinking water, pop, beer or juice (hopefully water though!). Remember that when it comes to drinks, or anything else on Earth Day, the best things come in no (or re-usable) packages.
Choose local produce: Buying locally grown fruits and vegetables means you are purchasing produce that was grown in your own province and did not have to be flown in from miles away. Not to mention the fact that fruits and vegetables are generally considered among the most environmentally and earth friendly food items to grow and produce in the first place.
Go organic for a day: According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), there are a number of benefits to organic agriculture including improved sustainability, and biodiversity and benefits to the earth’s soil, water, air and climate. Keep in mind, however, that organic foods are generally more expensive and we do not have definitive evidence to say that they are actually any healthier for you than conventionally grown foods.
My hope is that today’s article has shed some light on the connection between our dietary habits and the health of the earth. I am not asking or expecting anyone to give up meat or to purchase exclusively organic food, but it is important to recognize small changes can make a difference to the environment.
With that in mind, I’d like to close by wishing you all a Happy Earth Day!
Andy De Santis RD MPH
Andy is a Toronto-based private practice dietitian and nutrition writer/blogger. He also holds a master’s degree in public health nutrition from the University of Toronto. You can learn more about Andy and his services at -> AndyTheRD.com