Have you ever wondered whether the luscious meat or healthy eggs you devour regularly might be contributing to environmental degradation and climate change? Are you aware of the domino effect of unsustainable practices you trigger when you throw away your leftover food simply because you are full? Probably not.
Unsustainable eating patterns have become so normalised that we often fail to realise how dangerous they are for us and our future generations. Unsustainable eating patterns refer to the consumption of foods that in their production or consumption processes have adverse effects on the environment and human health. This puts the future of our world in serious jeopardy.
Meat and dairy are a part of the staple diet of a majority of people around the globe. According to statistics, around 70–80% of the world population is non-vegetarian.
We may not realise it, but this is an alarming situation because from farm to fork, meat and dairy are responsible for enormous amounts of greenhouse gas emissions, land and freshwater use, global acidification and eutrophication, among several other detrimental impacts. Besides, their consumption contributes to obesity and other health problems.
Another challenge to sustainable food consumption is the high amount of food that is wasted or thrown away daily. This problem too exists from farm to fork. Not only does it contribute to the already encumbering issue of waste management, but it also adds to our carbon footprint. It creates a vicious cycle of higher demand, higher production and higher environmental degradation.
The most efficacious and viable method to achieve the goals of sustainable development through sustainable eating practices is to switch to a vegan diet. This is incontestably not something that can be achieved swiftly, but gradual changes in one’s diet can go a long way in turning completely vegan and saving the environment immeasurable amounts of degradation.
One must also be conscious while grocery shopping and prefer buying organically and sustainably produced food. These measures benefit not only the environment but also one’s health and well-being. Besides, several other sustainable practices can be easily incorporated into our daily lives to overturn the damages that the human race has inflicted on mother earth.
A group of five young changemakers effectively illustrated the urgency of sustainable food consumption and the means to achieve it as part of the School Changemakers’ Program. They demonstrated their novel ideas through a captivating presentation that fused intriguing facts and statistics and a comprehensive survey with well-researched content.
After explaining the concept and importance of sustainable food consumption, they highlighted the major problems standing in the way of attaining it and detailed the foods that have a high carbon footprint and must be avoided. Shivom pointed out, “To change our food consumption, we should first change what we eat and not how much.”
The changemakers fully endorsed the idea of going vegan/vegetarian and urged all meat-lovers to acknowledge the harms they cause as a result of their eating habits. In their presentation, they also gave methods that one can adopt to reduce their carbon footprint. These include composting, growing your garden and avoiding the use of plastic bottles.
They also busted the myth of bottled water being purer than tap water.
Arpita highlighted the alarmingly high presence of plastic in our lives with the example of Daniel Webb, a man who collected every piece of plastic he used for a year and found that the items totalled 4,490.
The presentation was followed by a fruitful and interesting Q&A session where a lot of new ideas and information surfaced through inputs by team members and mentors. The session ended on a constructive note with valuable feedback from YAH-India mentors.
By Bula Kalra