11 December 2023
I recently saw a post on Instagram about Sir David Attenborough. A British broadcaster and biologist, Attenborough has traveled to virtually every corner of the world to observe nature in action and educate the rest of us.
Sadly, his recent exploits have uncovered many ecological disasters caused by humankind.
In his latest series, Planet Earth III, he talks about how moving to a plant-based diet could reduce demands on the planet while feeding the world. Great! To me, it sounds like he's supporting a food system transition as part of a larger strategy to tackle climate change, right? It didn't take long before nay-sayers started accusing him of hypocrisy. For years, activists have been calling on him to become vegan. While supporting a plant-predominant diet, Sir David has never committed to Veganism.
If you've been following me for a while, you know I dislike labels. David Attenborough has done more to raise awareness about the natural world than any other person I can think of. If we condemn someone for being less than perfect at anything, who would even want to try?
I admit I have known the compelling evidence in favor of a plant based diet for health since The China Study came out in 2005 (I did not learn much about this topic in my graduate program). It took me 15 years, greater awareness about food's impact on climate change and some extra time (during Covid) to experiment with new recipes to embrace it more fully.
If you've never tried a meatless meal, make a plan[t] to try Meatless Mondays (you can start today)! Even swapping just one meat meal a week for beans can reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes. There's more:
“Changing your diet to avoid animal products reduces your emissions [for a typical global consumer] by 28 percent, land use by 75% and water pollution by around 60%. Diet change is the single biggest way to reduce your impact on the environment.” Joseph Poore, Oxford University Researcher
The US Dietary Guidelines recommend 2-3 cups per day of vegetables and only 9% of Americans are meeting this goal.
Don't you want to be above average?