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How a plant-based diet can help save the planet and improve your health

How a plant-based diet can help save the planet and improve your health

As 2019 comes to a close we’ve seen fires rage through the Arctic, the Amazon, California, Indonesia, and Australia as well as record-breaking heat waves in the United States and throughout Europe.

By Palmer Owyoung

Sunday 5 January 2020, 12:57PM

Whole foods

Whole foods

Floods devastated Ethiopia, the Philippines, Bolivia, Iran, and Italy. Hurricane Dorian, one of the worst Atlantic storms in history, tore through the Bahamas. 

Climate change is no longer an academic eventuality. In 2019 it became an existential crisis. 

According to a report by the International Panel on Climate Change we have until 2030 to reduce CO2 levels to stay below 1.5 C degrees of warming and stave off the worst effects. What this means is if we don’t get the next ten years right, the world will look a lot different in the next twenty. 

So, what can you do? Here are six reasons why we should all reduce our meat and dairy consumption and eat a more plant-based diet to affect change and work towards the 2030 CO2 reduction goal.  

1. Climate Change – Livestock is responsible for approximately 16% of greenhouse gases worldwide. Much of this comes from methane which is about 20 times stronger than CO2. According to a United Nations report released in August 2019 shifting towards a plant-based diet would significantly boost the planet’s ability to fight climate change. 

2. Water Pollution – According to the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, It takes 15,400 Liters of water to produce 1 kilo of beef. That’s the equivalent of 154 5-minute showers, or flushing the toilet 2,566 times. Also, according to a report by the Livestock Environment and Development Initiative (LEAD) farm animals are one of the leading sources of pollution in rivers lakes and oceans. Increased greenhouse gases also lead to ocean acidification, which kills corals, marine mammals, shellfish and plankton. 

3. Land Use – According to the LEAD report, livestock is responsible for using 70 percent of agricultural land and 30% of the land on the planet. This leads to soil erosion, which can cause landslides, flooding, and poison groundwater. The Amazon is the largest rainforest in the world and sequesters 25% of the carbon dioxide absorbed by the land each year. However, 70% of deforestation in the region comes from cattle ranching, which kills animals, reduces bio-diversity and impairs its ability to produce oxygen and absorb CO2.   

4. Antibiotic Resistance – According to the US Food and Drug Administration, 75% of antibiotics in the United States are fed to livestock. This prevents infections in animals that are densely packed together and also encourages their weight gain. According to the Center for Disease Control, this leads to antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which can cause severe illness in humans that can be difficult to treat. Although more studies need to be done, there is also evidence that the residual antibiotics in meat and dairy can disrupt the good bacteria in the human gut, which can contribute to depression, anxiety, Alzheimer’s, allergies, autism and Asperger’s among other things. 

5. Animal Suffering – Several documentaries including Eating Animals, Dominion and Lucent expose the dark underbelly of factory farming. Livestock is grown in horrific conditions where they are crammed into cages, often live in their feces in windowless rooms without fresh air or sunlight and pumped full of hormones and antibiotics to make them grow faster. They are then herded into crates by being shocked or beaten only to be slaughtered, sometimes in the most horrific and terrifying ways, including boiling, dismemberment and having their throat slit. In the dairy industry, young cows are forcibly impregnated and then have their calves taken away from them a few days later. The mothers are then tethered to a milking machine and a few months later they are re-impregnated to keep lactation perpetual.

6. Health – In 2015 the World Health Organization declared processed meat a type 1 carcinogen that causes cancer and said that red meat is likely to cause cancer. A 2019 study from Harvard University linked red meat to an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

UWC Thailand

A study done in the Blue Zones, the five regions in the world that have a disproportionate number of people living to over 100, found that the average amount of meat consumption was only 55 grams 5 times per month and in one of the Blue Zones people ate a vegetarian diet.

According to several studies published in the Journal Nature, eating a diet rich in fruits, plants, legumes, beans, and nuts, reduces inflammation in the body and increases fiber which supports the growth of good bacteria in your gut. There is also evidence that reducing inflammation and maintaining a healthy micro-biome contributes to weight loss, preventing cancer, diabetes, heart disease, depression, anxiety, arthritis and a whole host of other diseases.

Many people think that moving to a plant-based diet means eating only salads and pasta and having to give up their favorite foods, but today that’s not true. There are plant-based substitutes for almost everything, including burgers, cheese, ice cream, and butter, which taste just as good as the real thing without all of the baggage that comes from eating meat and dairy.

Plant-Based Restaurants on Phuket

DiLite – Located in Thanyapura it offers a vegan and vegetarian buffet that is both organic and locally sourced. The menu is always changing but it offers a variety of Thai, Western and Indian flavors with an assortment of salad, soups, stews, and desserts.   

Vegan Table – Located in Phuket Town it offers a wide variety of Western foods including pizza, tacos, nachos, and cheesecake. The most impressive thing is that everything is made from scratch, including the bread.  

Vegan Booty Burger – Located in Cherng Talay, specialises in burgers and other indulgent foods including jalapeno cheese balls and chicken wings that are so authentic tasting that you’ll be shocked that you are eating plants. For the health-conscious, there is also an assortment of salads and grain bowls.    

Thinking of giving it a shot? Small steps are the key. Moving to a plant-based diet isn’t an all or nothing proposition. It means getting the majority of your calories from plants rather than animals.

You can still enjoy eating meat and dairy, just do it less often. Doing that a few times a week is a small sacrifice to make, but when you add it to other activities like carpooling, flying less, and composting and multiply it by the efforts of thousands of other people on Phuket and then compound it over many years, it can make a substantial difference to climate change, the environment and your health. 

For more tips about changing to a plant-based diet go to click on “Food” and “Making It Easy.”

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Jor12 | 10 January 2020 - 15:58:06

Some people are lucky to have seen bountiful numbers of Neanderthals.

Christy Sweet | 09 January 2020 - 15:01:57

Thank you for this report. Glad to see some coverage of what needs to be done whilst Neanderthals abound.

Christy Sweet | 09 January 2020 - 14:50:15

The phenomena  is natural alright,  but 
  over  thousands of years- not one hundred and eighty  Watch as ocean plankton stops generating oxygen while  methane is released from under vast glaciers and permafrost. Welcome to the Venusification of Earth.   

Jor12 | 09 January 2020 - 09:23:12

Dr k. Your comments don't make any sense. If prior earth climate changes were a natural phenomenon, why is it still not a natural phenomenon but rather "people's doing" as you state.

Kurt | 07 January 2020 - 12:52:42

As long as Mother Earth exists there were 'climate changes'/ ice ages, etc. Tropical areas became frost areas, and visa versa. That is clear. Now, the over populated earth is reacting on peoples doing/not preserve doings. A serious problem, not to be ignored. Human sea- and air pollution are now the 'culprits'.

Sir Burr | 07 January 2020 - 07:59:45

The reason for climate change, pollution, loss of habitat, water shortages and loss of species diversification can be laid at the door of over-population. But, of course, nobody wants to bring that up as to fix this would entail curbing the God given right to reproduce. The planet doesn't need saving; it'll be here for at least another 4 billion years. Save the Planet really means Save Hum...


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