Bicycle green bananas apples

Published on August 18th, 2011 | by Zachary Shahan

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Can You be an Environmentalist without Eating Green? (+ Top Green Living Stories)

August 18th, 2011 by

Food is something we don’t write about a lot here on Planetsave, leaving that more to our sister site Eat Drink Better. But it’s a critical part of a green life. Think about how much food you eat and compare that to how many clothes you buy or how many other products you buy…. There’s no comparison.

Food is a huge part of our environmental footprint. Livestock, alone, account for somewhere between 18% and 51% of humanity’s greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, depending on who you ask.

Livestock production contributes to a number of other water and environmental quality problems as well. Plus, it uses a huge amount of our limited freshwater.

Food is also transported all over the world, using tons of energy and creating tons of emissions, and it is packaged in environmentally unfriendly plastic and paper products. So, the question is, can you be an environmentalist if you don’t green your diet? (And, what exactly qualifies as greening your diet anyway?)

fruits environment

Well, on the one hand, I think everyone who cares about the environment (and is doing anything to help protect it) can call themself an environmentalist. Of course, though, with inaction on this matter, a pretty huge gap or schism is created.

So, what are the best ways to green your diet? Do the following (at least, as much as you can):

  1. Eat raw.
  2. Eat vegan.
  3. Eat vegetarian.
  4. Eat local foods. (Important, but apparently not as important as eating vegetarian.)
  5. Eat less.
  6. Eat non-processed foods and foods not packaged in plastic.

More tips to share? Drop them in the comments below.

Now, on to some top green living stories of the past day or so –>

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About the Author

is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy since 2009. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he's the founder and director of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to ZacharyShahan.com and click on the relevant buttons.



  • http://www.greenlivingideas.com karen

    As they say, a vegetarian on a hummer is greener than a carnivore on a hybrid.

    Great list!

    • http://importantmedia.org/members/zshahan/ Zachary Shahan

      Excellent phrase, hadn’t heard that! But that’s what the stats seem to show. Thanks for chiming in :D

  • http://glueandglitter.com Becky Striepe

    That’s a great list, Zach! This might fall under eating local, but I think that growing your own food is one of the best ways to green your diet. Even if you’re only growing some herbs, I think it helps you not only reduce your foodprint, but it helps you appreciate the time, effort, and care that goes into producing the food on our plates.

    • http://importantmedia.org/members/zshahan/ Zachary Shahan

      yeah, should put it as a separate one… was including it under eating local, but is actually something quite different

  • http://its-summertime.com/ Elyse

    I agree with you Zachary, the average diet could use some “greening”. Daily diets that include meat are harmful to both the planet and our bodies. For most folks your suggestions might seem pretty drastic. But if each of us were to slowly include one of these changes into our daily lives collectively we would see a huge shift. Purchasing products that have less plastic packaging might be the easiest place to start.

    • http://importantmedia.org/members/zshahan/ Zachary Shahan

      totally agree. start small. or start wherever you are. i’m somewhere in the middle of this list, so have a lot to improve. could cut the plastic more, eat more raw & vegan food, and eat more local food. was trying to make it accessible to all. but yeah, just bringing the topic up could stir some people’s blood :D

      thanks for chiming in!

  • http://www.chaosmosis.net Michael Ricciardi

    Michael’s two cent’s worth:

    And is it not better, to do some of these things, SOME of the time, than none of the time?

    We should remember also that we are privileged still here in the US — we can actually make these choices because of our plentiful food supply (which is internationally sourced)…in most areas of the developing world, you eat what’s available, and what you can afford to eat.

    With rising affluence (relatively) in the developing world, people want ans expect to eat meat — a sign of prosperity and success (and good nutrition too). Meat production (looking at it globally) will rise accordingly.

    There is not enough arable land on this planet to plant all the crops to feed everyone. In some areas, societies survive on mostly animal products. Vertical farming will take a radical change in lifestyle and major investments.

    In any case, we meat eaters should encourage “ethical omnivorism” and buying locally (less carbon), from pasture fed livestock (for cattle), fed a proper diet (otherwise, if grain-based, then enzymes added to reduce methane), etc.

    And, purchase meat (if local, free range is not available) from the discount (close to expiration date) section of the deli. Items here are pretty random (varies type that you eat), which discourages purchase-tracking data-mining which underpins the factory (volume) model of meat production.

    Lastly, we should encourage each other to go meatless at least once or twice a week. Learn how to cook a couple of veggie and vegan meals that we like (and there are a few of them :-) ).

    But, we should not become eco-evangelists on a crusade; this always creates a backlash in the culture (war) sphere…we already see this will certain eating reality shows, like Man vs. Food, which is embarrassing for me to watch…so wasteful and gluttonous..w

    We should all encourage people to do their best, to do what they can or feel motivated to do…like giving up driving a gas-powered automobile…whatever. Applaud every little stride or sacrifice.

    This is the way to win converts.

    My two cents.

    • http://importantmedia.org/members/zshahan/ Zachary Shahan

      thanks, Michael.

      i think this is what i encouraged (“I think everyone who cares about the environment and is doing anything to help protect it can call themself an environmentalist.” … “Do the following (at least, as much as you can)…”

      but also bringing some light & attention to the significance of food

  • http://Web Deborah

    I try to eat like that anyways, just to be healthy.

    • http://importantmedia.org/members/zshahan/ Zachary Shahan

      right, added benefit! i should have touched on that more in the post!

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