This is how our diet affects environment

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What we eat has an impact on the planet and our health that is not always positive. Here we tell you which one

This is how our diet affects environment

Every action has a consequence. That same logic applies to the consumption of food, because everything we eat leaves a mark on the environment and our body. Products such as those derived from animals and foods grown with chemicals often cause a negative impact on the planet.

Meat consumption

Surely you have heard that consuming meat, especially cow meat, is harmful to the environment. Although many consider it a myth, or a trade war against the livestock industry, the consumption of meat is in fact one of the most polluting practices worldwide.


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According to Green Peace, livestock is responsible for 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions. This means that this industry is one of the biggest contributors to climate change. The amount of greenhouse gases produced by the cows is so big that the UN has said that if these animals form a country this would be the third most polluting.

In addition to polluting our airs with gases such as methane, livestock produces that forests are replaced by pasture. This replacement generates deforestation and displacement of communities that inhabit these regions, such as indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples.

Another factor that makes eating meat harmful to the Earth is the large amount of water used for livestock. Can you believe that 1695 liters of water are used to produce a single hamburger?

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But the thing does not stop there. The consumption of meat is also harmful to human health. WHO warns that excessive consumption of meat can result in diseases such as cancer, which is why beef has been classified as a carcinogen. Eating meat can also result in cardiovascular disease, overweight, among others.

Sometimes, as UN Environment explains, the drugs -especially antibiotics- used in cows end up in the products sold in the market. When meat of this type is consumed, the person can develop resistance to the antibiotics used for human diseases, which means that certain conditions cannot longer be treated.

So, should I stop eating meat?

Today, there are several alternatives such as vegetarianism and veganism. Options that can be more friendly with the planet. However, to stop consuming meat can be a very difficult task to fulfill and the vegetarian diet does not satisfy everybody.

What you can do is consume responsibly and try to replace beef with less polluting options like chicken. You can also give an opportunity to vegetarian meats made with grains such as chickpeas, lentils, and beans.

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If you want to continue eating beef you can contribute to the planet in two ways. On the one hand, you can buy steaks or burgers produced on ecological farms instead of intensive farms. On the other hand, you can support and encourage government and private initiatives that promote responsible livestock so that an ecological balance is achieved. Additionally, you can support studies and research that propose more balanced models of consumption.

Products grown with chemicals

Not only the consumption of meat is harmful to the planet and our health. Buy and eat food grown with chemicals or genetically modified is harmful to the planet and the human being.

The Critical Magazine explains that the use of pesticides has become a common practice and, often praised, because it increases the productivity of crops. For example, the use of inorganic fertilizers produces eutrophication in the waters. This means that bodies of water are filled with nutrients that are higher than necessary, causing the balance and health of the ecosystems and species that inhabit them to be highly affected.



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Other types of contamination, due to the use of pesticides and chemicals as well as agriculture and mining, are salinization of soils and contamination by heavy metals. In the first case, plants lose nutrients, do not grow as they should, and plants return the water to the soil. In the second case, absorbing metals is highly dangerous for plants and consumers. Plants can become toxic and humans can develop diseases such as cancer, kidney damage, hypertension, bone malformations, among many others.

With contaminated soils the direct result is that the cultivated foods will also be so. That is why buying and consuming organic products, which have not grown thanks to the use of pesticides and fertilizers, is an alternative to help the environment and avoid ingesting chemicals and metals that affect our well-being. Additionally, you will support the local trade of your country and region.

As with meat consumption, you can collaborate on initiatives that establish more sustainable and responsible ways of growing and producing food.


LatinAmerican Post | Marcela Peñaloza
Translated from "Así afecta nuestra dieta al medio ambiente"