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Can a Plant-Based Diet Improve Earth? Essay

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Updated: Jul 8th, 2021

Critical Preface

One of the acutest problems of modern humanity, affecting the question of its successful development in the future, is the need to preserve the ecosystem and resources of the planet. The fact that continuous growth characterizes the Earth’s population indicates a parallel increase in harmful pollutants that threaten the environment. This situation is a matter of concern and requires an urgent search for solutions to improve the state of the Earth.

Therefore, human nutrition, which requires the production of resource-intensive products, is one of the negative factors in the framework of the environmental issue. In this regard, the study aims to study the rationality of a plant-based diet as the equivalent of nutrition, including animal products, as a way to stop the degradation of the planet’s ecosystem. The research focuses on assessing the impact of a vegetarian diet on the ecosystem and comparing possible outcomes with modern resource-intensive nutrition.

A large-scale and comprehensive study of the effect of vegetarian nutrition on the state of the Earth is of great importance since it touches upon the theme of the future of humanity. In this regard, the research will focus on solving the stated problem through the following questions:

  1. What effect do fishing industry, beef production, and consumption of other animal products have on the environment?
  2. What are the predictions about the Earth given the high level of consumption of animal products?
  3. What is the impact of plant-based diets on the environment?
  4. How do individual human eating habits affect the ecosystem?
  5. Can the transition to a plant-based diet ensure the preservation of the ecological balance?

Research covered the period from November 2018 to January 2019. The study is based on credible sources, including peer-reviewed articles published in journals, and on websites. The most useful sources were articles written by Eshel, et al., Lacour, et al., Ranganathan and colleagues, and Rosi, et al., which provided extensive information on the effect of a plant-based diet on the environment. In addition, these sources allowed comparing different types of diets and their consequences for humanity. The articles written by Monger and Tuomisto shed light on the advantage of a vegetarian diet in the context of the future of the planet. These sources allowed obtaining and analyzing data on various types of nutrition and to come to the determination of possible solutions and outcomes.

Annotated Bibliography

Eshel, Gidon, et al. “Environmentally Optimal, Nutritionally Aware Beef Replacement Plant-Based Diets.” ACS Publications, Environmental Science & Technology, vol. 50, 2016, pp.8164-8168.

This article is written by Gidon Eshel et al. and published by Environmental Science & Technology. The purpose of the article is to study a diet based on plant food as a way of reducing the environmental outcomes of beef production. The article focuses on the rationality of replacing livestock products with plant equivalent in order to reduce environmental burdens. The authors emphasize that replacing beef consumption with plant food can not only provide a person with “the full lipid profile, key vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients”, but also contribute to the conservation of ecosystem resources (Eshel et al. 8164).

Therefore, the article is aimed at a general audience concerned about environmental issues as well as an alternative nutritional profile. Moreover, this source represents the study and numerous findings; it also provides relevant data for assessing plant nutrition, which is its strength. I learned that replacing a meat-based diet with a plant-based equivalent provides a person with proper nutrition. It also helps to save arable land and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other harmful emissions, while protecting the environment. This information allows for in-depth research in favor of a vegetarian diet.

Lacour, Camille, et al. “Environmental Impacts of Plant-Based Diets: How Does Organic Food Consumption Contribute to Environmental Sustainability?” Frontiers in Nutrition, vol. 5, no. 8, 2018.

Frontiers in Nutrition journal has issued this article, written by Camille Lacour, et al. The target audience of the article might be people interested in modern nutrition research, as well as students and researchers studying environmental sustainability. The source aims at identifying the results of a vegetarian diet within the ecology framework, focusing on how to produce food. Generally, the article offers a detailed review of various types of diets based on plant foods, as well as methods of food production.

Hence, the authors emphasize that not all types of vegetarian diets are aimed at preserving the environment and their benefits depend on the mode of production. The study uses a large cohort and sample, which makes its results credible and allows deepening the research in assessing food production. Therefore, the article revealed that not all types of plant-based diets support the environment, which is important when conducting reliable research on the effect of vegetarian nutrition on Earth.

Monger, Bruce. “Impact of Food Choices on the Environment.” Center for Nutrition Studies, 2015.

This is an article that Bruce Monger published on the Center for Nutrition Studies page, focuses on preserving the environment through plant-based nutrition. Thereupon, the objective of the article is to expose the fishing and meat industry as a threat to the global water and the Earth as a whole. The author considers water pollution, emissions, and world population growth, as a result of the growing activity of cattle breeding and overfishing, insisting on changing the diet as a way to preserve the ecology. He also emphasizes that large fishing companies “have little concern for conservation,” which emphasizes the relevance of changing nutrition globally (Monger).

References to a number of studies and results in the field of global food production as a cause of environmental degradation, as well as detailed explanations of this relationship, reflect the strengths of the article. In this regard, I realized that my research requires an understanding of the results of the activities of meat and fish production on the environment to assess the benefits of a plant-based diet.

Ranganathan, Janet, et al. “Shifting Diets for a Sustainable Food Future.” World Resources Institute, 2016.

Janet Ranganathanand colleagues provided this article to the World Resources Institute. The source aims to highlight changes in the global population and urbanization in the future as a reason for increasing the consumption of “resource-intensive foods” that will threaten the ecosystem and a healthy lifestyle (Ranganathan et al. 1). In general, the article points to the need to solve the problem of the projected food gap, which could put at risk the sustainable development of humanity and the Earth.

The strength of this article is its focus on the growth of the world population shortly and the forecast of the negative results of nutrition based on meat and milk products. This allows to assess the future of the environment and to develop research not only in the direction of modern realities but also in future challenges. I learned that people would be more prosperous and more urbanized soon, making resource-intensive food in demand, which will push the research to assess a vegetarian diet in the future of the planet.

Rosi, Alice, et al. “Environmental Impact of Omnivorous, Ovo-Lacto-Vegetarian, and Vegan Diet.” Scientific Reports, vol. 7, 2017.

This is an article written by Alice Rosi, et al. and published in Scientific Reports. The purpose of the source is to study three types of diets, namely “omnivorous, ovo-lacto-vegetarian, and vegan diet” and to determine the environmental impact of each of them (Rosi et al.).

The authors state that nutrition has a considerable effect on the ecosystem and an accurate understanding of the outcomes of eating habits is obligatory. Moreover, the article concludes that plant-based diets can also cause damage to the resources of the planet and individual habits determine the degree of environmental threat. It is important that this source considers individual diets without averaging over the population, which gives accurate results. This allowed me to learn that the omnivorous diet leads to the greatest ecological footprints; however, vegetarian food can also be harmful. Therefore, given that a detailed study of individual nutrition habits can show the most accurate result, the data in this article are useful for my research.

Tuomisto, Hanna L. “Importance of Considering Environmental Sustainability in Dietary Guidelines.” The Lancet Planetary Health, vol. 2, no. 8, 2018, e331-e332.

This article is written by Hanna L. Tuomisto and published in The Lancet Planetary Health. The source aims to highlight the importance of the optimization of health through environmental conservation, which is possible due to decline in animal-based food production. The author emphasizes the significance of healthy nutrition, preferring plant foods, both for health and preventing negative environmental changes. According to the article, recommendations for a healthy diet should include the replacement of animal products with plant alternatives to preserve health and ecology. I found out that positive changes are possible through the development of various types of alternative products that are appropriate for a plant-based diet.

The source provides a detailed explanation of the importance of switching to an alternative diet for both human health and environmental support, which underlines its strengths. Nevertheless, the article does not include research and a large amount of data. However, I find dietary recommendations valuable to support the research argument.

Works Cited

Eshel, Gidon, et al. “ACS Publications, Environmental Science & Technology, vol. 50, 2016, pp.8164-8168. Web.

Lacour, Camille, et al. “Frontiers in Nutrition, vol. 5, no. 8, 2018. Web.

Monger, Bruce. “Center for Nutrition Studies, 2015. Web.

Ranganathan, Janet, et al. “Shifting Diets for a Sustainable Food Future.” World Resources Institute, 2016. Web.

Rosi, Alice, et al. “Scientific Reports, vol. 7, 2017. Web.

Tuomisto, Hanna L. “The Lancet Planetary Health, vol. 2, no. 8, 2018, 331-332. Web.

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