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A reinvigorated view of our exchange with the world.

Veganism has given way to a much more trendy sister term, “plant-based,” that was coined by nutritional biochemist T. Colin Campbell around four decades ago. Removing some of the stringent formality of the vegan practice while being based in many of the same principles, whole foods plant-based eating has become a lifestyle and nutrition choice that is in response to a more advanced look at what our bodies need for fuel, as well as how in the pursuit of a good meal and nutrition, we are impacting the world around ourselves. The market has noticed as well. Research company Mintel reported that U.S. food and drink products that used the phrase “plant-based” grew 268 percent from 2012 to 2018.

Plant-based eating is a global conversation around how to solve individual nutritional deficits on the microlevel and alleviate food crises on the global-macro level. Earlier this year, EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet, Health released an explosive scientific report and recommendation called “The Planetary Diet.” “Food systems have the potential to nurture human health and support environmental sustainability; however, they are currently threatening both. Providing a growing global population with healthy diets from sustainable food systems is an immediate challenge,” the report summarizes. “Because much of the world’s population is inadequately nourished and many environmental systems and processes are pushed beyond safe boundaries by food production, a global transformation of the food system is urgently needed.”

Whole foods plant-based diets are having a positive effect on many aspects of society — not just the consumers who are choosing to rethink their plates. The 2011 documentary and New York Times bestseller Forks Over Knives: The Plant-Based Way to Health outlines the ways in which we are being impacted by the food industry, and how plant-based eating holds the key to solving many of the challenges we are currently faced with. With plant-based diets, each consumer benefits themselves and the world in the following ways: (1) Greater health and vitality with a reduced risk of the leading causes of death (heart disease, stroke, cancer, obesity, cognitive decline); (2) A reduced carbon footprint, switching to plant-based diet reduces one’s footprint by two tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year; and (3) Contributing to a healthier economy and helping reduce debt around rising healthcare costs.

Through the discussion and practice of plant-based eating, we have the opportunity to make lasting changes that begin at the individual level and collectively benefit the whole. By simply shifting more meals over to incorporate more plants and less animal by-products, our bodies and our earth can breathe a little easier.