Conscious Eating: A Solution to Personal and Planetary Health
Photo Credit: Thinkstock/flyparade
Many of us on the conscious path may look at massive problems in the world and feel helpless. How can I, one person, positively impact the planet: the dying oceans, world hunger, rainforest destruction, or climate change? The truth is, you can, in a big way, with the food choices that you make every single day.
Conscious eating makes the connection between any particular food choice and the inherent far-reaching impact or “true cost” of that choice on not just our own body and psyche, but also the animals, as well as the mother that sustains us all, Gaia herself. It’s an easy and delicious way to have a significant and positive impact on the planet and everyone on it. Conscious eating is also an expression of love: self love, animal love and planet love. As it is with our bodies, every bite we eat is either a vote for a healthy, thriving world, or one moving toward disease and destruction.
Conscious eating is something within your power (most of the time). The choice of what to eat every day carries more weight than some other positive actions that require a lot more effort and expense. Driving a hybrid may have a positive impact on the environment vs. driving a Hummer for example, but it comes with a hefty price tag, and doesn’t help nearly as much as making conscious food choices does.
The formula for positive change is simple: eat more plants. The more whole plants (ideally organic) we eat, the lighter our footprint on the planet will be, and the healthier our bodies and world will become as well. A recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that “We project that health and climate change benefits will both be greater the lower the fraction of animal-sourced foods in our diets.”
The effect of conscious eating on our body is prevention against today’s most rampant lifestyle diseases including obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. These life-threatening illnesses are up to 95% preventable with conscious diet and lifestyle choices. Billions of dollars currently going toward managing these diseases could be reallocated to areas that are sorely underfunded like education and supporting veterans.
The differences in terms of global impact between say a hemp burger and a hamburger are vast and deep. Major world issues like hunger; rainforest destruction, ocean acidification and loss of biodiversity are dramatically affected by what we chose to eat because animal agriculture is extremely resource intensive and environmentally destructive.
Livestock is the largest contributor to greenhouse gasses that cause climate change, the top threat to the human species. It takes approximately 16 pounds of plants and up to 5000 gallons of fresh water to produce 1 pound of beef. Animal agriculture is using 1/3 of the world’s fresh water, and 1/2 of the fresh water in the US. The grain that’s currently feeding livestock animals could feed 800 million starving people instead. The rainforest is being decimated at the rate of a football field a second to make way to graze animals or to grow GMO crops to feed them. The oceans that provide 50% of our oxygen are dying due to pollution from factory farms that create “dead zones”, overfishing and carbon emissions. On a planet with a rapidly exploding population that is being increasingly desertified in the wake of climate change, and has access to only 1% of water on the planet, these issues need to be considered for humans and the planet to survive and thrive.
Consider too the impact of our food choices on our own psyches. We’ve all learned that everything is energy, and we are what we eat. The notion of non-violence or doing no harm is called ahimsa. Do we value ahimsa, the tenant that fueled Gandhi’s work? In the US we’re killing 17 million chickens a minute for food. Is this ahimsa? If we eat slaughtered animals that were pumped with hormones and antibiotics, and were full of fear and adrenaline at their time of death, how might that be affecting us? Does an enlightened diet include consuming the heavy energy of slaughtered animals? What is the karmic price tag of that choice? Might a diet full of chlorophyll i.e.: transmuted sunlight, serve our consciousness better? Wouldn’t consuming light be more conducive to enlightenment?
I suggest learning more about the environmental impact of our food choices by watching a very informative documentary called Cowspiracy, researching conscious eating and adopting more plants into your diet. The time for this awareness is upon us, and conscious eating is an opportunity for us to be the change we wish to see in the world.