For over a couple years I have been primarily vegetarian with the exception of fish and insects. So I guess that’s what, entopescotarian? But after watching both Seaspiracy and Cowspiracy on Netflix this past week I made the switch to entovegan (insects and plants only, no animal products). I’m not opining on the accuracy of the movies, just that they correlated with other information I have seen. I’m trialing it to see how I react to no more fish and dairy. So far, so good, maybe a bit grouchy (but it’s only been a week).
I’m doing this for a couple reasons. One, I’m convinced that diet is the single most important predictor of health, and my own experience shows me that when I focus on eating whole foods, mostly plants, with low added sugar, I function better all around (#truth).
Second, and actually more important to me as I learn (or wake-up) more, is eating meat is simply no longer environmentally sustainable. I have been reading a lot on this topic and have personally seen enough information to spark me to action. Earlier this week the Atlantic ran a piece about how we are cooking the planet by what we eat. Interestingly, the article mentioned:
…”Americans waste a lot of food. Nearly one-third of it, in fact. More than 130 billion pounds a year, worth roughly $160 billion.” and
…”there is one dietary change to consider that beats all others in terms of its climate impact. It is not eating locally or seasonally. It is not eating organic or fair-trade. It is not eating unprocessed foods or avoiding big-box and fast-food retailers. It is eating less meat.” and
“The conservation nonprofit Rare analyzed a sweeping set of climate-change mitigation strategies in 2019. It found that getting households to recycle, switch to LED lighting and hybrid vehicles, and add rooftop solar systems would save less than half the carbon emissions combined than would reducing food waste and adopting a plant-based diet.”
So here it goes. Entovegan. “But what about the insects”, you say? For now, I’m eating ‘em. I’m terrified of most (as my kids will tell you), so eating them is a kind of therapy I suppose. From an environmental footprint standpoint their production is much less by all accounts, and you get a much bigger protein bang for your buck, pound-for-pound, than fish/chicken/beef.
You don’t have to go to the extreme, though. We can all do our part by choosing a diet of mostly plants and reducing our meat consumption.
A quick note on sugar….Most of us could benefit from reducing the amount of added sugar we consume. Excess sugar is a causative agent for type 2 diabetes, obesity, and lower overall health. I found an article on NIH: A Historical and Scientific Perspective of Sugar and Its Relation with Obesity and Diabetes that mentions fructose-containing added sugars, such as sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup, have been experimentally, epidemiologically, and clinically shown to be involved in the current epidemics of obesity and diabetes. Fructose intake appears to drive excessive food intake by inducing leptin resistance (14, 15) and by stimulating neural and hedonic responses in the brain (16–18). Even when excessive caloric intake is controlled, fructose has been shown in experimental models to have metabolic effects independent of weight gain, including the ability to induce fatty liver, insulin resistance, and elevated blood pressure. Fructose, by itself, induces the body to store fat. Why? Evolutionarily speaking, this made sense way, way “back in the day”, so that we could store energy during colder months of the year. But now, not so much.
As a double-whammy, sugar is highly addictive, perhaps as much as cocaine. Due to the addictive nature, your body is going to crave sugar nom nom nom (my kids understand this, why we debate the addictive properties I don’t know). When you have too much added sugar you are tacking on extra calories for 100% zero nutritional benefit (plus the fat storage noted above). And sugar is added to processed foods filled with all kinds of zero benefit calories, so when you combine it all, it comes out to a ton of unneeded calories. You don’t need a double-blind peer reviewed scientific study to tell you that this is problematic.
So what to do? Eat less added sugar by eating more whole foods (including fruit but not juice), less processed foods, and start paying attention to the “added sugars” section on the food label.
And eat less meat. Your body, and the planet, will thank you.