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  • Writer's pictureElena K.

Foods that Harm the Environment

This blog will provide you with a brief list of the most common foods that harm the environment. That doesn't mean you have to eliminate them from your diet (though feel free to do so), but you could reduce their daily consumption and replace them with something else. After all, there are plenty of food choices, so it shouldn't be that hard. I will also provide you with some alternatives that I love. Please note that this is not a "healthy foods blog"; it's only about foods that damage the environment.

1. Beef: unfortunately, the way beef is produced creates the biggest amount of greenhouse gas emissions. Also, you should stop drinking cow's milk. Studies have shown that you don't need it past infancy, and there are plenty of other calcium sources. Also, "a 2018 study by researchers at the University of Oxford showed that producing a glass of dairy milk results in almost three times more greenhouse gas emissions than any plant-based milk, and it consumes nine times more land than any of the milk alternatives. (Land is required to pasture the cows and grow their feed, which the animals belch out in the form of methane.)"

I still eat pretty much everything without missing these two. You can substitute beef with turkey meat and eat your burger. You can substitute cow's milk with oat milk literally in any recipe. It's just a matter of getting used to it. Oat milk is at the top of the pyramid for healthy and environmentally friendly choices; oat milk sales have dramatically increased. I love the brand "Oatly," and it has three options: full fat, half, and no fat. Do full or half because the no fat is like water.

2. Palm oil: check labels in products for palm oil. In Indonesia and Malaysia, the countries with the biggest production of palm oil, farmers are destroying forests to meet palm oil demand. The clearing of forests results in global warming and pouts in danger the biodiversity of the area.

FYI: Nutella has palm oil.

This one is so easy to replace from your diet; there are plenty of good products with other oils such as olive oil - great for your health.

3. Soybeans: "330 million tons of soybeans are produced every year in the world. In addition to contributing to deforestation, the production of soybean oil requires the use of heavy industrial processes with large quantities of chemical solvents like hexane, which produces greenhouse gases and various forms of local pollution. Waste from oil production is used to feed livestock, but this contributes to increasing gastric methane emissions, especially from cattle. Finally, the production of tofu and other soy proteins is not an environmentally harmless process either."

Again, you can eat chicken, turkey, or seafood instead of tofu. As far as soy milk goes, chose oat, as I mentioned above.

4. Bottled water: "More than 17 million barrels of oil every year are needed just to produce the plastic bottles that contain the water, according to Ban the Bottle, which advocates for eliminating single-use bottles of water." Also, most people don't recycle those bottles. You can solve this problem by carrying your own water bottle.

5. Coffee: I was shocked when I learned this, but coffee production requires direct sunlight, which means farmers remove trees and cause a distraction to the forests. "Intensive coffee production can lead to deforestation, less biodiversity, and soil depletion, according to researchers at the University of Texas." I've been coffee free three weeks now. It was hard the first two days, but then you get used to it easily. Try green tea with oat milk instead.

6. Almond milk: almonds trees require much more water than other trees. 80% of almonds worldwide are produced in California, where water is scarce. "The overpumping is causing the ground to sink and might even contribute to earthquakes. Mass almond cultivation could also be contributing to honeybee die-off." You can easily live without almond milk hehe.

7. Fast food: Studies have shown that fast food packaging is rarely recycled. However, it doesn't even end up in the trash; instead, it pollutes cities, forests, and oceans, etc. "Some fast-food packaging contains harmful chemicals linked to health problems and which can linger for years in landfills, potentially contaminating groundwater, a 2017 report by the Silent Spring Institute found." Here is a perfect reason to not eat fast food and stay in shape!

Note: this blog doesn't advocate for the complete elimination of these foods from your diet. But if you have another option, choose that instead. At the end of the day, it's a team effort. If we all reduce portions of the above foods, we can contribute to a more sustainable planet.



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