There are several health consequences and unsustainable factors to consider that are tied to all diets.
Very often Micronutrients are of special concern including; Iron, zinc, calcium, vitamins B-12, D, and long-chain n-3 (omega-3) fatty acids omega-6. Unless vegans either supplement or eat adequate amounts of fortified foods and or know how to make foods more bioavailable, they could be at risk for deficiencies, that can have mild to severe consequences. Vegans however, get more than adequate other vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients as well as Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) short-chain omega-3 fatty acid (18:3n-3), that are crucial to overall health. But diets that do not include fish, eggs, or sea vegetables (seaweeds) generally lack the long-chain n-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA; 20:5n-3) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA; 22:6n-3), which are important for cardiovascular health as well as eye and brain functions. ALA can only minimally convert into EPA and DHA.
There have been lots of correlations with meat eaters and heart disease as well as high blood pressure or cholesterol and certain cancers. Interestingly enough it’s not the meat itself that is causing the negative health consequences rather how it’s prepared, processed or because of the lack of other foods crucial to our diets, mainly vegetables and other plant-based foods. Also, meat eaters are eating very dense calories with higher saturated fats and usually more than is recommended at a time. This causes weight gain, and invertedly the other problems associated with a high meat diet. The only meats directly associated with certain cancers are deli processed meats because of the nitrates and barbequing meats because of the high temperature and charring…
- Fruits and vegetables not grown locally or because of season,
- Have to be transported – often thousands of miles. Air freighted produce are responsible for very high levels of greenhouse gas emissions.
- Fragile or highly perishable foods that are prone to spoilage contribute to nearly ½ of all fruit and vegetables produced globally wasted each year
- Plant-based diets require great amounts of quality soil in which to grow in. Soils act as a home for greenhouse gasses as they are constantly being plowed and turned over to plant crops, this churning release greenhouse gases that otherwise would be trapped in healthy soils.
- Nutrient-poor soil requires additional chemicals and pesticides to grow, which contaminates soil, water, turf, and other vegetation.
- Water usage – fruits, avocados and tree nuts, grow in warmer climates that require large amounts of fresh water, and if not locally available are diverted or transported in. When used in high quantities, water is diverted from natural ecosystems that house salmon populations, among many other plant and animal species. This diversion has directly affected the salmon with more disease and fewer offspring being produced. This has not only affected the wild salmon’s survival, but the greater ecosystem as well.
- Lastly, we must consider the trees that are cut down to make room for the ever-increasing demand for commercial farming. For poorer countries with a hot climate some of these foods are to blame for driving force of illegal deforestation.
- Chemical fertilizers on crops
- Harmful use of antibiotics in animals (compensating for filthy conditions, even when the animals are not sick).
- Genetically modified crops and use of pesticides, and other practices that deplete the land,
- Mistreatment of animals and mass production practices
- Increase of water pollution and other pollutants
- “Vertical integration,” a transition from small, diverse farms producing a variety of crops and livestock to an industrialized system facility “factory farm,” that keeps a very large number of live animals confined for more than 45 days per year and brings food into their enclosures rather than allowing them to graze. A “large factory farm” typically has at least 1,000 beef cattle, 700 dairy cows, 2,500 large pigs, or 82,000 egg-laying hens.
Next week, how to help and lessen your carbon footprint.
*If this article or any past articles leaves you with questions, the want to be a better you, the courage to take the first step to a happier you, than please contact me at: