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VIEWPOINT: Change Your Diet For Earth Day


Save yourself and save the planet:
Be sure meat comprises no more than 1/3
of your dish, with 2/3 vegetables. Photo
courtesy National Pork Board.


Thursday is Earth Day, and experts at the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) say one way you can help the planet is by taking a good look at what’s on your plate. If you didn’t get around to healthier eating as a New year’s resolution, now’s a good time to start.

You can choose healthier foods and simultaneously make a difference in preserving some of the earth’s natural resources.

  • By eating more veggies and downsizing meat portions, you’re helping to conserve topsoil and save millions of gallons of water. According to the American Dietetic Association, a 3-ounce beef burger may require about 26 times more water than if you choose a similarly sized veggie burger.
  • Beef requires a lot of energy—for feed, manure management, transportation, slaughter and processing—before it gets to your market. The Natural Resources Defense Council estimates if all Americans ate one less serving of beef weekly, we’d lower greenhouse gas emissions by the same amount as if we took about 5 million cars off our roads.
  • And don’t think chicken is the solution: The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization found that all livestock generate more greenhouse gas emissions than all the planes, trains and automobiles on the planet!
  • You don’t need to eliminate meat from your diet; but the experts point to convincing evidence that diets high in meat increase risk for colon cancer. Vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans should be the focus of most meals, with meat taking up a supporting role—a 2/3 to 1/3 ratio.

    Tips For Health & Earth Day

    1. Adopt The New Ratio. It’s easy to follow the “2/3 plants to 1/3 meat” plan. For example, mix a small scoop of brown rice with plenty of colorful vegetables to fill most of your plate, accompanied by 3 ounces of roasted chicken.

    2. Size Does Matter. In your 2/3:1/3 plan, keep your portions modest. Recommended sizes: a rounded handful for a serving of pasta or dried beans; a baseball-sized serving for fresh fruit; a meat serving about the size of a deck of cards. Still hungry? Eat a large salad with oil and vinegar.

    3. Vegetarian Day. Have a “vegetarian day” once or twice a week. Go dairy-free if you can: A dairy cow contributes as much manure/greenhouse gas as a beef steer.

    Download New American Plate brochures and recipes from the AICR to help you save the earth as you improve your health.

    Related Food Videos: For more food videos, check out The Nibble's Food Video Collection.

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