April 22, 2009
Reduce Your "Foodprint" for Earth Day
Earth Day is upon us again, and many of us are promising ourselves that we're going to walk more, take the bus, install energy-efficient light bulbs—and eat more sustainably.
The effects of our food choices on the environment have never occupied more attention, and with good reason.
Most of this discourse has addressed the benefits of eating locally. In addition to supporting local farms, eating locally can also mean stocking up on organic veggies and switching our egg purchases to cage-free. These are great ways to implement the 3 R's: reducing, refining, and replacing the animal foods in our diet with plant-based foods.
Eat Green This Earth Day
U.S. factory farms raise and kill more than nine billion animals annually. These massive operations consume a tremendous amount of raw materials, water, and fossil fuels.
Farm animals in the United States produce about 500 million tons of waste annually that can pollute our soil, air and water—as well as threaten the health of nearby residents.
Cruel and Unsustainable
Of course, factory farms are also notoriously inhumane. Factory egg facilities cram the majority of about 280 million egg-laying hens inside cages so tiny they can't spread their wings or walk, let alone dust-bathe, perch, or nest. Millions of breeding pigs and veal calves are packed into individual crates where they can barely move their entire lives.
How We Can Help
These problems are serious—but there's good news. It's never been easier to make food choices that balance our concerns for sustainability with animal welfare.
Grocery stores and restaurants across the country offer myriad ways to tread more responsibly—and humanely—on our planet. Restaurants from gourmet bistros to fast-food chains feature alternatives to products from factory-farmed animals.
Supermarkets carry a tremendous supply of convincing mock meats, non-dairy milks and egg alternatives. A vast array of cookbook, celebrity food writers and websites point the way to the excitement of exploring new ways of dining. Picking one day a week for meat-free menus is a great way to reduce animal suffering, as well as to show concern for Earth—all the while opening our collective eyes to new food alternatives now available.
Our individual food choices make a difference in the world around us. This Earth Day, we can celebrate with food and new ways of thinking about food that protect the planet and improve the lives of its inhabitants. Making these decisions are simple. The results can be delicious. This is one trend that we call can embrace.
What You Can Do