I’m just a mom. A mom that is trying to envision what her children’s lives will look like when they are her age. And then I am a mom that can’t help but shed a tear. Even more so in the midst of a pandemic.
I do not have any special degrees or any fancy letters behind my name. I do not have insider information. I do not have personal research to support my post. I do, however, have two working ears, two focusing eyes and a set of fingers to spell out the fear in my heart and my mind. Change has to start somewhere. It has to, or our children will continue on this path to having a life that is plagued with disease, pollution and destruction.
As humans, we are a selfish species, and we are making this planet an unfriendly place to be. The other night my son woke up in the middle of the night, came into my bedroom and said he couldn’t sleep because his mind was racing. He had been busy thinking of COVID-19 and all the people it has already affected. He is 7. Little boys who are 7 shouldn’t be able to sleep because of monsters, not because of novel Global pandemics.
We are destroying this planet. We are 100% responsible for the future of our children and the Earth on which they walk. A lot of our world problems stem from our diets. Yep, our diets. And yes, I am still just a mom and this is just my opinion. But don’t you at least want to hear why I think global pandemics and our diets are related?
You’ve likely read a book or two about fad diets, watched one too many documentaries on eating properly, and hopefully because of that you’ve at least made one small attempt to change or better yourself. It may not have stuck, and that’s ok because you are trying. And here is why we all need to try over and over and over: for our children. That’s it.
Some things you can do now that will result in BIG changes in the end:
Lead by example. Make smart foods choices, and let your children see. When you get home from a long day and you’re famished, reach for the fruit instead of that giant bag of potato chips. By showing your children that you are making better body choices, they will too. Nourishing your body with the proper foods will help strengthen your body’s immunities for whatever is to come.
Lessen the amount of processed foods you consume. What are processed foods? Essentially a processed food is anything that has been tampered with to change its original makeup– often to give it a longer shelf life. Ultra-processed foods have been linked to obesity, heart disease and cancer. So skip the canned tomato sauces for your pasta, and instead try making your own.
How does processing food affect the environment? The process of manufacturing food involves toxic chemicals, which are then released into the environment by the companies doing the manufacturing. Food manufacturing is a large contributor to pollution. It’s right up there with metal mining, chemical manufacturing and the use of electric utilities.
Change over to a plant-based diet. That is SO much easier said than done, I know. I was raised in the Midwest where we survived on meat and every form of cheese imaginable. Truth be told, a lot of people really don’t even know what ‘plant based’ means. I have intelligent, well-versed friends that try to eat plant-based, but unknowingly eat bread baked with an egg or vegetables sautéed in butter. Educate yourself and try and incorporate more of this lifestyle. Plant-based means no dairy, no eggs, no meat, no seafood. No animal products whatsoever.
Changing your diet to a plant-based diet is likely one of the best things you can do for yourself and for our environment. Why? Well, health-wise, plant-based diets are linked to reduction in blood pressure, cholesterol heart disease, type 2 diabetes and even some forms of cancer (to name just a few of the powerhouse possibilities). Environmentally? Because it reduces the need for large industrialized farming. Period. If there is less of a demand for animals to consume, there is less of a need for crops in which to feed the animals, therefore less requirement for land on which to grow those crops to sustain the amount of animals we demand.
Stop wasting food. Another topic around plant-based diets that you may or may not have heard about is methane emissions. It is said that methane pollution is aiding in our climate changes that we are currently experiencing because it has high global warming potential. (That’s a whole other topic, I know.) And although cows, sheep, pigs and other animals let off a whole lot of methane each day via their mouths and rears, most of the methane emissions are actually coming from humans. Yep, us! A large portion of the greenhouse gas, methane, is released by oil and gas leakages, livestock farming (demanded and run by humans), littered plastic bags human-developed rice paddies (essentially man-made wetlands generated for the purpose of food production) and decaying vegetation in our landfills.
By now you might be thinking, “How in the world is all this talk about our diets linked to any sort of pandemic? “ Simply put, our greed has lead to shameful, dishonorable and extremely unhygienic farming techniques. Our greed has lead to food insecurities in our livestock. Our greed has lead to the destruction of vast swaths of land that were once home to wild animals, therefore introducing new animal-related illnesses. Our greed has also introduced our livestock into areas that are affecting the natural inhabitants/wildlife of that land. Species that survive are moving and intermixing with different animals and humans. So many pandemics have derived from animals, and their being in places they should not be.
The facts are out there for you to read. And I understand that sometimes it’s easier to live in denial. Believe me, I did it for the first few days of this pandemic. I kept telling myself ‘I’m healthy. I’m young. I have strong lungs. This won’t affect me.’ Well, I was wrong. The virus is here in my active community, and it is living in the bodies of those my age. I can’t deny that any longer. And I fear this is very the beginning of what’s to come for our children unless we make some serious changes. And if it means rethinking the portions I offer my children or whether I can spare 10 minutes to make my own sauce, I’m going to consciously remind myself of the panic, uneasiness and dejection I’m currently feeling. And yes, I realize there are much bigger reasons for global sickness. I am not naive, but I will choose to control the things that I can, and the things I believe will make a difference in the end. Like I said, I’m just a mom ultimately hoping to change the trajectory of my children’s future for the better.
Photo Credit :: Jessica Rockowitz Photography