To feed a growing global population and curtail climate change, scientists say we need to radically change our food systems.
BY SARAH GIBBENS
PUBLISHED JANUARY 16, 2019
THERE’S AN ENTIRE industry built around dieting. Most of its products are intended to help people lose weight, gain muscle, or live longer.
But as the global human population steadily climbs, scientists are scrambling to devise a diet plan that can feed 10 billion people by 2050.
A new report, published in the British medical journal The Lancet, claims to do just that. It recommends a largely plant-based diet, with small, occasional allowances for meat, dairy, and sugar. The report was compiled by a group of 30 scientists from around the world who study nutrition or food policy. For three years, they deliberated with the intent of creating recommendations that could be adopted by governments to meet the challenge of feeding a growing world population.
“Even small increases in the consumption of red meat or dairy foods would make this goal difficult or impossible to achieve,” a summary of the report states.
The report’s authors reached their conclusions by weighing different side-effects of food production. They included greenhouse gases, water and crop use, nitrogen or phosphorus from fertilizers, and the potential for biodiversity to take a hit should a region be converted into farmland. By managing all these factors, the report’s authors say climate change-inducing gases could be reduced and enough land could be reserved to feed the world’s growing population.
Under the report’s conclusions, meat and sugar consumption around the world should drop by 50 percent. Who eats less meat and where will vary, says Jessica Fanzo, a report author and professor of food policy and ethics at Johns Hopkins University. Meat consumption in the U.S., for instance, would have to go down and be replaced by fruits and vegetables. But other countries already facing poor nutrition could incorporate meat into roughly three percent of their diet.
“We’ll be in dire straits,” if no action is taken, says Fanzo.
Following a vegan trend
Recommendations to scale back meat consumption aren’t new. Just this past October, a study published in the journal Nature set similar guidelines for reducing meat and sugar consumption.
What’s different about this new report, says Fanzo, are the steps outlined to put such a change into place.
Branded what the authors call a “Great Food Transformation,” it outlines strategies that range from the least active, simply sharing information, to the most aggressive, eliminating consumer choice.
“I think it’s hard for people on a daily basis because the incentives and political structures that are in place don’t make it so easy,” says Fanzo. Shifting what sort of agricultural practices receive subsidies is one tactic for overhauling the food system, the report outlines. That would change the relative prices of foods, and thus build in consumer incentives.
Whether a plan like this could actually grow legs around the world is a different story, says Fanzo.
“With the current [presidential] administration, I just don’t think anything is going to move,” she notes.
Greg Miller is the chief science officer for the U.S. National Dairy Council. In addition to citing health benefits of milk like calcium and vitamin D, he cautions against transforming America’s food landscape.
“You have a million people whose lives depend on dairy,” Miller says of those who work on farms or are otherwise employed by the dairy industry.
“We could get there with the right incentives and the right policies,” Miller says of making dairy farming more sustainable. “Subsidies are needed for better technology right now. [Small-scale farmers] don’t have additional income to do some of the things that could be done.”
Better breeding has created cows that are capable of producing more milk for instance, and better tracking systems can monitor an animal’s food intake and activity.
Lingering emissions debates
Not all experts are convinced that plant-based diets are a food security panacea. Frank Mitloehner, an animal scientist from the University of California, Davis has been vocal about his view that meat has been disproportionately linked to climate change emissions.
“What concerns me the most is that, while livestock has an impact, the report makes it sound as if it was the leading source of the impacts. By far the use of fossil fuels are the leading source of carbon emissions,” says Mitloehner.
According to the EPA, burning fossil fuels for industry, electricity, and transportation comprises the bulk of greenhouse gas emissions. Agriculture is nine percent of emissions and livestock roughly four percent of that.
Mitloehner also disagrees with the method used by the council to determine the amount of greenhouse gases produced by livestock, saying too much weight was given to methane during calculations. Compared to carbon, methane stays in the atmosphere for a relatively short amount of time. Scientists debate how long exactly, but studies have shown methane plays a large role in warming oceans.
Reducing food waste
Though the report’s dietary guidelines are receiving criticism, its push to reduce food waste is being more widely received. In the U.S. alone, nearly 30 percent of all food is wasted.
Strategies to reduce waste are outlined for both consumers and producers in the report. Better storage technology and contamination spotting could help businesses reduce the amount of food that’s thrown out, but educating consumers is also touted as an effective strategy.
It’s a daunting prospect for many—changing eating habits and reducing food waste. But Kathryn Kellogg, author of the book 101 Ways to Go Zero Waste, says she gets by with just $250 a month.
“There’s so many creative ways to use our food to prevent waste, and I feel like most people just don’t know about them,” she says. She cites knowing how to cook each part of a vegetable and being constantly aware of the food in her fridge as some of her most effective habits. (Learn more about so-called zero-waste families.)
Kellogg, however, lives in California near neighborhoods with accessible farmers markets. For other communities living in so-called food deserts—regions where grocery stores or markets aren’t readily available—accessing fresh fruits and vegetables can be more difficult.
“All the actions we recommend are available now,” says Fanzo. “They’re not ‘pie in the sky’ future technologies. They’re just not done at a large scale.”
The report’s commissioners will hold launch events in more than 30 countries around the world starting Thursday. They plan to appeal to international organizations like the U.N. as potential enforcers of their new guidelines.
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I use Vegan and Plant-Based Diet interchangeably, but I guess there are some to which Veganism also means, no animal products whatsoever such as leather. I am referring only to Dietary Vegans in this article.
Most of my life I wanted to become vegan because of my profound love of animals. I always had a hard time reconciling being a meat eater and an animal lover, but it seemed very daunting, especially since vegetables are not my favorite food. I don’t hate them but I really had to go out of my way to eat them.
I tried to “sneak” vegetables into the meals I made by chopping them up and putting them in meatloaf, casseroles, etc. I bought and drank V-8, which I like, especially with gin, tabasco, and a stick of celery, but that’s beside the point. I’ve really never been a huge meat eater, preferring to use it as a condiment, such as in beef stroganoff, rather than sitting down to a steak. Eating a plant-based diet just seemed bland and undoable for me.
How I got there
I had a heart attack. I am going to somewhat diverge here for a few moments to share some important information. One night after eating dinner, I was feeling a little uncomfortable so since we have a long hall in our house, I decided to walk a little bit to maybe help me digest a little better. When I started walking, I felt a little burning sensation in my chest, just like indigestion. I have felt this before when I have gone walking and I figured it was just because I was out of shape. It usually went away if I just pushed through it.
I started belching and it went away. Then it came back, only more intense, again I started belching and it went away. It kept coming back, a little stronger each time. It was getting pretty uncomfortable and I was starting to feel some aching between by shoulder blades that went up my neck and my head felt like it was swelling. I decided to lie down, thinking that would make it go away. When I lay down, it got much stronger and didn’t go away. It just so happened I had just read an article on female symptoms of heart attack the day before. I told my husband I thought we should go to the hospital, even though I wasn’t accepting this was what was happening to me, but the symptoms fit.
My husband drove me to emergency and by the time I got there my systolic blood pressure reading was over 200! It turns out that the heart starts doing this at the beginning of a heart attack. OK, I’m starting to believe it now. It turns out I had a 99% blockage of a main artery to the heart and had a stent installed.
Here’s the moral of this little story. Be sure to read up on heart attack symptoms. If you have ANY symptoms, go to the hospital, and this applies to men as well. Some men have the same symptoms as women, and some women have the same symptoms as men!
All the way to the hospital, the belching relieved the symptoms and I told my husband it was probably just a bad case of indigestion. Many times I just wanted to turn around and go home, but I didn’t. I didn’t want to be embarrassed at the hospital if I just had a bad case of indigestion. The doctor told me that because I responded to the symptoms and got to the hospital right away, my heart was not damaged at all. Don’t worry about being embarrassed if you are not sure, GO! It could save your life!
On Becoming Vegan
So back to becoming a vegan. A couple of months later during my recovery, my cardiologist told me about eating a plant-based diet. He recommended I watch a documentary called “Forks Over Knives”. Faerie Dust Online also carries the Forks Over Knives Paperback book and Forks Over Knives Cookbook. After having watched it, he decided to go plant-based because of the scientific evidence presented in this documentary that eating meat was damaging. I watched it with my husband and both of us decided to also eat a plant-based diet.
This documentary not only pointed out the negative way the body responds to meat, but it also showed evidence of how a plant-based diet can reverse some major diseases like diabetes, cancer, and inflammation diseases. And of course it will help get cholesterol under control and helps with heart diseases as well.
Ok, so where do I start. I did not realize I would be at such a loss. One can only eat enough beans and rice. One can only eat so many salads, especially me. We spent a lot of time looking through plant-based and vegan websites looking for recipes. None seemed appealing, but we still fumbled through. I was still motivated by having had a heart attack. When I was really craving something tasty with meat in it, like hamburgers, I had to tell myself I have already eaten enough hamburgers to last two lifetimes, or that in another universe I am enjoying hamburgers. I know this seems silly but it did take the sting out of the cravings.
What really helped me make the transition was when I took a trip to Las Vegas. I just needed to get away and I wanted to tour the casinos as they seemed to be updated to some pretty spectacular places. I found some vegan restaurants even though I really wanted to get in on some buffets (I ended up going to one and it was not good for vegan options). The first place I went was a restaurant called “VegeNation”. The reviews were really good and the pictures of their food were even better! I ordered a “FOOD NOT BOMBS BOWL” which had house spiced tofu, black bean chili, and breakfast potatoes. topped with “cheese”, avocado, and chipotle “cream”. served with corn tortillas. This honestly was one of the best things I ever ate!
All of a sudden I got it. I finally could see how to prepare plant-based food that was REALLY good! The next place I went to was “Chef Kennys Asian Vegan Restaurant”. I ordered 4 different entrees. I am sure people thought I was a pig, but I wanted to try lots of stuff. It was again spectacularly delicious. I took the rest back to the hotel with me for the next day. I was getting excited. This vegan stuff was actually doable. The last day there I ate at “Vege-Way”, also a Chef Kenny Restaurant, but it was a burger joint. I had a burger, fries, and milkshake, all to die for!
Now you may not live in Vegas, but my advice to you is to first of all, eat at a really good vegan restaurant. Most larger towns have them. Try different things. You need to know that it can be done and this is the best orientation. Read the reviews, look at pictures, and then go eat there.
How to Survive the Transition
Even though I used to be a cook and worked many years in restaurants, I just don’t like to cook much anymore. Fortunately, for me, my husband does and he is damn good at it! My husband has always gone on diets with me because he figures it is easier to go along than to prepare different types of food for each meal, he is so supportive of my efforts. Love that man!
I have to have food that is handy and fast to cook. I find I get hungry immediately on a plant-based diet and when I am hungry I need to have stuff that is either ready to go or that cooks quickly. I am also an ex fast food junkie, so I need to have some of that stuff on hand as well. If I want to do some “chef-ing” I need to get started preparing food early, because as I said, when I get hungry it has to go fast. I have included some recipes that are great for guests or just as a special dinner for you and your family.
If you are having a craving for meat, there are lots of really good meat substitutes. The Beyond Meat brand has some really excellent choices. The Italian Sausage is the best. It is so close to the flavor of Italian Sausage that you may not be able to tell the difference. I like the HOT ones because they have more depth of flavor. We like the Bratwurst Sausages served with mashed potatoes and sauerkraut made with a touch of brown sugar and caraway seeds. To die for! Beyond Meat also makes hamburgers that are really good. I add Za’atar (my new favorite herb), garlic and onion powders, salt & pepper, and vegan worcestershire sauce. They also make fake chicken and several flavors of ground “beef” crumbles. You can find Beyond Meat products at Whole Foods Market, Sprouts, and some grocery stores like Safeway and Kroger. If you subscribe to their website you can get coupons now and then and be notified of new products and information. FYI, I prefer the Sprouts brand meatless burgers. I like the flavor better and they are easy to fix. You can actually find Beyond Meat Burgers on menus in many restaurants now as well as Impossible Burgers, also very good but not available in stores yet.
Gardein is also a very good “Meatless” brand. We use their Meatless Meatballs for Spaghetti and Meatballs or sandwiches. We also use their Golden Fishless Filets. You can make Fish & Chips or I like to use them if I have a fast food craving by putting them on a bun with “cheese” and tartar sauce for a fake McDonald’s Filet O Fish sandwich. Pretty darned good, however, the texture is a little light for a fish filet, but the flavor is there.
Amy’s products are pretty good but I usually only buy their Gluten-Free, Dairy Free Beans & Rice Burritos. I am also Gluten Free because of an inflammatory disease and it helps, but I like the Gluten-Free Burritos the best anyhow. The non-gluten free is a heavier tortilla and tends to overpower the filling. I usually thaw these in the microwave for 1.5 minutes, then finish them off in a little oil in a frying pan to brown them, otherwise they come out doughy. It makes them like a lite chimichanga, which I love. The flavor is so good you don’t miss the cheese. I usually put some salsa and Tofutti Sour Cream (excellent!) on top or guacamole or just sliced avocados. Quite good for a fast meal with fruit.
Another fast-food fix: Annie’s Mac & Cheese. There are 2 types, one is regular flavor Mac & Cheese and the other is made with pumpkin and sweet potato. I love them both. Amazing that there is no dairy in it! If you like the boxed Mac & Cheese, it tastes just the same! It is made with Rice Noodles (if you want Gluten-Free) or regular pasta. The cheese mix is a little salty but I usually put beans (I like Limas) with it to make a complete protein and add some Tofutti Sour Cream. That cuts the salt a little. Anyhow, it’s very good.
And now for non-dairy cheeses: I really like Follow Your Heart “cheeses” for sandwiches and burgers. My favorites are the Smoked Gouda and American flavors. Follow Your Heart also makes a shredded Parmesan Cheese as well. It is similar to Parmesan, but is a little lacking. Works if you use sparingly like in pesto. And finally, I use Original Vegenaise from Follow Your Heart. I love mayo and this one is pretty darned good! Diaya makes a good SHARP cheddar, but it is quite tangy. If you like really sharp cheddar you would like this. Their Mozzarella shreds are good when melted on a pizza, but make sure it is really melted or it is very tangy. Chao has some quite tasty cheeses, my favorite being the Tomato Cayenne Slices. I can just munch on a slice right out of the package. I also stumbled on a recipe for Queso using a full package of the Creamy Original and a can of Ro-tel. I haven’t tried it yet but I miss Queso so I will. Tofutti Sour Cream and Cream Cheese are both really good. Tofutti seems to have upped the sourness of the sour cream so it tastes more authentic. Non-dairy cheeses do not melt as easily as regular cheeses. You have to give them more time so plan for this when using them.
I haven’t found a good milk substitute to replace good old cow’s milk for drinking without adding some truvia and maybe some vanilla, but you can use non-dairy milks (soy, almond, coconut) in a lot of recipes that call for milk. So, if you are a big milk drinker, I’m sorry, but one good thing to know is that some non-dairy milks contain a lot of calcium and protein, which you need to add to a vegan diet unless you are really conscientious, which I am not. I used to like the Coffee Mate creamers but now I use Original Silk Soy Creamer. Just as tasty and the Original is plenty sweet for me, however they also have Vanilla, and I think some other flavors.
Some hard-core vegans think you should not eat the prepared foods I have mentioned that are available now and everything should be whole foods and made from scratch. I agree, but I won’t do it and I will be worse off for it. I tend to not eat at all if I am hungry and I have to make something from scratch. That’s up to you. The idea is to improve your life and do the best you can. I have proof that this works. I just had a bone density scan and my bone density has improved since the last one two years ago. My cholesterol is also down to a normal level from being way high. You can be hard-core about this if you can, or you can do what you can do. Maybe even just cutting down on how much meat you eat and adding more fruits and vegetables is what you can do. It is still an improvement in your nutrition. No guilt. That’s my motto.
Be good to yourself.
I will be adding recipes, suggestions, and information as we go along so be sure to check THIS PAGE now and then.
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The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World
The Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu have survived more than fifty years of exile and the soul-crushing violence of oppression. Despite their hardships—or, as they would say, because of them—they are two of the most joyful people on the planet.
People seem to struggle with the issue of Duality, as do I. It just doesn’t seem right. Is it something we just have to endure in our physical life? What is the reason for it?
I think some of the reason is that we know there is a spiritual part of us, but we have not reconciled with the logistics of it. Churches tell us the only way we can access spirituality is through the dogma of each religion. Scientists tells us it’s not real because it’s not science, but does acknowledge now there are some kinds of psycho/placebo responses sometimes when outcomes are unexplainable.
We all identify ourselves with some kind of relationship to spirituality from no spirituality at all, to all Spirit where this physical life is an illusion. Maybe there is another approach, another middle ground so to speak.
I was getting ready to do a Tarot reading for myself one day and as I was reaching to the lower level of my end table where I kept my Tarot book and cards, I was stopped in my tracks. I felt strongly a real presence of myself. It was that one everyone gets from time to time where you get confused as you get older, because despite what your body is doing, you don’t feel any different inside. My usual number is that I don’t feel a day over 19. Then we dismiss this as wishful thinking. What if it wasn’t?
That day, the feeling was that I was the same person I have always been and it defied time and space, and distance. I felt the like person I have always been without having aged as well as still being in the same place, even though I have moved a lot in my life. It was like having watched a movie and gotten so wrapped up in it that you had experienced a lifetime traversing the world in a couple of hours, and when the movie was over, you discovered you were the same person as when you first arrived. This may not make sense to you but it was like a more vertical time experience than linear. I will explain this later.
So I went ahead and started my reading. I chose a card in my deck that was one of the major Arcana, Key XXI. The Universe. The Tarot set I use is called Tarot of the Spirit by Pamela Eakins, PhD. This is one of the most resourceful and spiritual Tarot books I have come across and always stimulates advanced spiritual thought in me.
In this Arcana, I started reading the Meditation section which I almost never do. There was a section that said,
“The Universe, one verse, one turn
Hailed on Earth as it is in Heaven
Done on Earth as it is in Heaven
Lived on Earth as it is in Heaven.”
I got to thinking, perhaps there is no separation, no duality. Perhaps we live in a Universe where the physical plane and the spiritual plane co-exist. We tend to feel so separated from the spiritual realm because we have been told they are different but I am beginning to think they are simultaneous and integrated.
Eakins further says,
“Through this magical window [between the physical and the spiritual], you can see your steps laid out before and behind. In reviewing these steps, it appears as if you have been traversing the Earth incessantly. But where have you actually gone? It appears now that you have traveled forever, but you have gone nowhere!”
“You feel, in some ways, just like you did at the beginning.”
This is exactly how I was perceiving things that day.
“As above, so below”.
This is a phrase I learned when I was training to be a Reiki Master and was commonly used in different attunements and healing techniques. I have since heard it used often in a Metaphysical sense but never thought much about it thinking it was defining the difference between a spiritual “heaven” (perfect) and a physical “earth” (imperfect). Now I think what it is saying is that it’s all the same existence, a shared existence in which we have access to all the divine answers right here and right now. We just have to remove ourselves from the fallacy of perfectionism and experience life as a human with all the flaws and gooey stuff, and trust that our “salvation” lies in acknowledging the lack of duality with a willingness to trust the Spiritual “US” when we need to.
“What is the beginning? Did you not begin to re-member WHO YOU ARE? Did you not learn that the illumination you sought without was within you all along? Did you not see that you ARE the illumination you sought without? The point never was the distance from whence you came in the world of matter, nor to where you fathomed you were going in that world, but the discovery of WHO YOU ARE. The purpose of the journey is the discovery of the inner self….Your physical body has been the vehicle of your discovery.”
So back to my experience of my Self being as it has always been and transcending time and space, and even distance. Perhaps this phenomena of feeling like you have never aged is the real reality. Perhaps this is the eternal YOU that is in the non-eternal body/vehicle that will get you through the physical life. I told you I would get back to you about a vertical time experience versus a linear one.
We are all used to the linear time experience that runs from past to future, but perhaps when we mentally and emotionally have that sense of time not passing, we are actually tapping into the eternal self, vertical time. It doesn’t move, it doesn’t travel, but it can experience. It is the only explanation. Instead of thinking it is wishful thinking, I challenge all of us to pay attention to that Self instead of blowing it off, and see if we can see more. This is new to me, too, so I will be doing this experiment with you.
Here is an even greater challenge. This one I can attest to. In order to tap into that spiritual side of us, because we have never really known how to do this (except prayer works for some, but then that separates you from spirit again), when a worrisome situation comes up try to set aside worry and just know that the Universe will take care of things in the way they need to be taken care of. Get out of your own way. Do what you can, then wait and watch. Don’t give in to helplessness. Pay attention to “signs and wonders”. When we project worry or helplessness to the Universe, it tends to mess things up, Universally.
A psychic one told me there are no coincidences. Everything happens for a reason and in its own time. I have come to believe this. You will understand things sometimes later rather than sooner, but most of the time you will “get it” at some point.
I would love to hear your responses and words of enlightenment if you have some to share. Please leave your comments below.
Brown Laced Leaves Soapstone Soap Dish
This beautiful handmade soapstone soap dish features a pattern of interlaced leaves against an earthy brown background. This hand carved soapstone piece from Kenya makes a beautiful addition to a variety of decor schemes. Origin: Kenya