By Kari Oakley
More and more these days, college students are looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprints. Some of these students even choose their university based on its commitment to all things green.
If you count yourself among the college students who want to do something tangible to improve the environment, your diet is a good place to start. It’s also impactful, if you think about it. After all, most people eat at least three meals a day. A change in diet represents one of the most direct ways that you can give the environment a boost.
Here are three ways that a change in diet or a change in your approach to food growth and consumption can improve the environment.
1. Learn From Experts
College students can embark on their quest for environmental improvement by learning about the work of experts like Jordan Rubin. Rubin has created a plan that will help heal the food system over a seven-year period.
His ideas include farming using the concept of permaculture. That is to say, his farming techniques utilize the rotation of plants so that the soils have an chance to replenish themselves.
This expert also suggests that more food forests be grown each year. The forests capitalize on a layered approach to food growth, with plants like cherry trees covering the highest levels, hazelnut shrubs covering the mid-level, and blackberry shrubs covering the lower levels. Medicinal mushrooms and edible fungi make up the forests’ floors.
Students interested in learning more about Rubin’s efforts can study his work and implement some of his programs in order to grow their own food or to shop at places that employ his ideas.
2. Shop Locally for Food
Shopping locally has a big impact on the environment. Doing so saves 1.1 billion gallons of fossil fuels each year, because it reduces the need for long-distance food transport.
Currently, the U.S. ships and transports more than two trillion dollars in products to over 150 countries annually. College students who concentrate their food shopping efforts locally find delicious foods at local farmer’s markets and small farms. This reduces the amount of time that the food has to be transported, which saves fuel.
3. Eat Vegan and Vegetarian
The greenhouse gas emissions caused by livestock is greater than the emissions that come from those cars, trucks, and other vehicles. Lamb and beef production creates emissions that run 250 times higher than say, the production of legumes. Pork and poultry run 40 times higher.
College students interested in curbing this trend can do something very simple to stop it. They can adopt a vegan diet, or at least one that predominantly features plants over everything else. For example, a diet that combines pescetarian, Mediterranean, or vegetarian diet principles, including veganism, could help decrease the projected 80% increase in greenhouse gases that are expected by the year 2050. And of all the diets, the vegetarian and vegan diets offer the most significant help to the environment.
Those wanting to transition to a vegetarian or vegan diet can do so by educating themselves about the various diets that are out there. They can slowly add all plant-based meals into their diet, starting with maybe one or two meatless meals a week.
Final Thoughts on Improving the Environment With Diet
A change in diet can have a profound impact on a person’s health as well as on the environment, and many college students today are leading that charge. For those who haven’t yet implemented dietary changes to help the planet, there are a few things that can be done right away.
First, these environmentally conscious students can learn from experts. These people are on the cutting edge of food production: Many times, their specialties lie in creating environmentally-friendly farms and food plans.
Second, college students can make sure that they eat from local sources. This practice alone would stop the use of billions of gallons of fossil fuels each year.
Finally, adopting a vegetarian or vegan diet not only improves a person’s lifespan, but is better for the environment than almost any other sustainability plan. Even adding just a few meatless meals a week can greatly reduce a person’s carbon footprint over the course of a lifetime.
Kari Oakley is a fitness trainer from Kenosha Wisconsin. She now lives in downtown Chicago, and loves to get out. She is a big fan of anything adventure, and loves getting a workout in the outdoors.