Benefits of a Vegan Diet
Plant-based diets have all kinds of benefits, from booting personal health to combating climate change. Numerous studies link plant-based diets with better cardiovascular health, lower risk of heart disease, reduced likelihood of cancer, and decreased risk of type 2 diabetes. These positive health outcomes are due to lower glucose levels, lower BMIs, lower blood pressure, and lower cholesterol levels compared to omnivores. Eating a plant-based diet is also much better for the environment than eating an omnivorous one. Why? Producing plant protein saves land, water, and energy compared to producing animal protein. Producing plant protein also results in fewer greenhouse gas emissions than producing animal protein does. For example, 1 kg of tofu results in 10kg of carbon dioxide emissions, and 1 kg of beef can result in up to 640 kg of carbon dioxide emissions.
So, with all the benefits, why aren’t plant-based diets the norm? For one, unhealthy and processed foods tend to be cheaper than healthy foods. On average, eating healthy, plant-based foods costs about $1.50 more per day than eating unhealthy foods. Unhealthy diets are cheaper because of the way the food industry and policies are set up; the focus on the high volume of foods has led to a network of farming, transportation, and marketing that favor sales of unhealthy foods. If the industry shifted to have a focus on healthier and whole foods, the costs of those would decrease. Additionally, less healthy foods tend to be more convenient than healthy foods. It’s easy to find a fast-food restaurant or pick up a bag of chips by the checkout of a gas station, but it can be more difficult to find nutritious food. Living in a food desert can make it even harder to find nutritious food; food deserts are communities that lack affordable or good-quality fresh food, and millions of people in the United States live in these communities. Low-income communities are at a higher risk of living in a food desert. This also increases the risk of food insecurity. Minority groups have a higher chance of living with food insecurity or in a food desert.
One way to combat food insecurity is through community food pantries. Here are some instructions to set one up.
1. First, determine the location of the food pantry.
Think of safety-- an area with heavy traffic would not be a good place for a food pantry.
Decide whether the pantry will be in a private or public location. Then, follow up with your city or municipality to obtain the right permit(s).
Try to find somewhere that is easy to access, but will not be in the way of regular traffic.
If your area has hot summers, make sure that the pantry faces North or East!
private/ public location-- follow up with city to obtain the appropriate permit.
Use your creativity and materials on hand to put together the pantry! Then place it in your chosen location.
Now, it’s time to stock the pantry! People in the community who want to/ are able to contribute can do so at their own discretion when it’s convenient to them.
Some great things to stock the pantry with are things like canned proteins and veggies, dried beans, rice, quinoa, pasta, rolled oats, and personal care items.
If there are empty shelves, you could organize a group of people to contribute on a schedule.
4. Lastly, make sure to keep the pantry in good condition and check on it frequently to avoid splinters or other issues!