Eating a “greener” diet is great for the environment. It’s a simple way to reduce your carbon footprint, and it always feels great to do a little bit of good for our planet. But are there any other benefits to a “green,” sustainable diet? Is it better for your body, or just for the environment?
The good news: you’ll probably be happier and healthier eating a more sustainable diet. The changes that benefit the environment are also great for your overall health. Much research conducted by organism like The American Heart Association have demonstrated that cutting down on meat and dairy, going vegetarian, or switching to a fully vegan diet can lower risk of diabetes and hypertension. Here are just a few of the ways you might see your health improve after making a few sustainable changes to your diet:
1. Cutting down on meat also lower your risk of cancer
Consuming processed meats – even lean meats like chicken – increases your risk for certain types of cancer, according to The International Agency for Research on Cancer. “This is one of the main health reasons that I decided to eliminate all kinds of meat from my diet,” says Jessica Harkness, a cross country runner who went vegetarian over a year ago. “I want to live the longest, healthiest life that I can, and I figured that had to start with my diet.”
2. Many people actually have trouble digesting dairy
“I still eat dairy products occasionally, but I have noticed that I feel better when I don’t eat them, so I’m always looking for tasty vegan options,” says Harkness. Most of the world’s population is actually lactose intolerant, and many people may not even realize they have a lactose sensitivity. “People need to start looking for healthier sources of calcium-even a calcium supplement might be better for some,” says Harkness.
3. Including more organic fruits and veggies in your diet has limitless benefits
“Honestly, the best thing I did for myself was turn to fruit and veggies,” says Harkness. “I get creative with fruit smoothies and nutritious salads, and I’ve discovered so many tasty new foods! Before I went vegetarian, I snacked on more processed foods and sweets. Now I feel like I have more energy for my races, and my body just feels stronger overall.” Choosing produce without harmful pesticides might be more expensive, but sometimes, it’s worth the cost because of the positive impact on your health and the environment.
4. Choosing foods without plastic packaging means choosing “whole foods”
“Being more sustainable didn’t just mean cutting out meat -it also meant being mindful of foods with excessive packaging,” says Harkness. “I really started to think about where all those wrappers and plastic containers were going, so I turned away from processed foods and started choosing more fruits and vegetables. It was easier to find fruits and veggies that weren’t unnecessarily packaged. This meant I reduced waste and trash by a lot. I also kept an eye out for recyclable packaging, or containers that I could rinse out and use again.”
Being green is better for the planet-and it’s a better for you! It’s all connected, so it’s time to start that sustainable diet.
Written by Jane Harkness