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2018: Your Diet for a Healthier Planet

Adopting a diet of more beans and less meat in 2018 could improve your health, and the health of the planet. (newfoodeconomy.org)
Adopting a diet of more beans and less meat in 2018 could improve your health, and the health of the planet. (newfoodeconomy.org)
December 28, 2017

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – As the New Year approaches, many Americans will be focusing on what resolutions they'll make to do things differently in 2018.

Climate scientists at the University of California at Davis say one option is to help slow climate change by adopting a low-emissions diet.

Maya Almaraz, a postdoctoral researcher at the university, says while people may feel helpless when it comes to an issue as large as a warming planet, the data show that personal decisions really can have a big impact.

"We make food choices every day,” she points out. “It's an individual choice, so you may make them based on how you want to look or what you want your health to be. Or you can choose to make them based on how you want to impact the planet."

Almaraz says the single biggest move you can make, in terms of diet to reduce methane and carbon pollution, is by putting less meat on your plate.

She points out by eating fish instead of steak, you'll produce an eight-fold reduction in emissions, and switching to beans or lentils drops your footprint to almost zero.

Almaraz adds that the good news is you don't have to go vegan to make a difference. She suggests instead of eating meat twice a day, try cutting that down to once a day.

She contends if enough people reduce their meat consumption, that decision alone could offset the emissions from all cars on the road today.

She explains every step that goes into meat production has an impact on global warming.

"When you produce a hamburger, what that takes is a lot of feed for those cows, so that requires a lot of land,” she states. “Cut down some forests, you grow corn, you grow oats, you grow barley – that requires a lot of fertilizer."

Almaraz recommends trying out the so-called Mediterranean diet, which includes lots of nuts, beans, fish, but also chicken once a week and red meat once a month.

In addition to lowering your risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes, she says a global adoption of a Mediterranean diet could help cut global warming by up to 15 percent by 2050.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - NM