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Make a resolution: Vegan choices can help the Earth

 Patty Johnson, CSJ

Vegan food

A plant-based diet? This new year “Journey Farther, Respond Boldly and Creatively”!

The beginning of a new year is a time for introspection and self-assessment. Many of us think about how food choices affect our personal health, but they can also affect the health of the planet. We invite you to reflect on the food you eat and its environmental impact. Consider learning more about a plant-based diet and trying it a few times as your special practice this year.

As part of my personal commitment to the Care of Creation, I have been shifting to a more plant-based diet. One small change I made this year was making my annual Christmas cookies vegan by swapping out the dairy butter for a plant-based one. They still turned out as delicious as ever, and I lessened my environmental impact. There are also a variety of options to replace eggs in your baking.

About veganism

Oxford University produced a major study describing the impact of meat and dairy consumption on the planet. “A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth,” said Joseph Poore, who led the research.

Since 1960, the world’s population has doubled. During that same time period, global meat consumption has more than quadrupled. Raising livestock produces approximately 18% of carbon emissions worldwide and 80% of agricultural greenhouse gas emissions.

A vegan diet excludes all foods produced by or derived from animals such as meat, fish, dairy products, eggs and honey and includes all grains, beans, legumes, vegetables and fruits.

As more people are going vegan, the internet has exploded with articles and recipes on how to eat a plant-based diet. Many vegan foods that taste like those made with meat have been developed, such as vegan hamburgers, hot dogs, ice cream, cheese, non-dairy yogurt and many other products. These have grown in availability and popularity.

Any vegan choices will help the Earth

Maybe going totally vegan is not for you, but making some vegan choices does have an impact. Some people choose to eat vegan one day a week, such as a “Meatless Monday.” Some choose to eat vegan except for their main meal of the day. Some try it for a week. Eating lower on the food chain by transitioning to a more plant-based diet is something anyone focusing on ecological conversion may want to give serious consideration.

Food is undeniably one of life’s great pleasures. Aligning your diet with your values offers a whole new level of satisfaction from eating.

Have you made any vegan swaps in your diet? Please leave a comment and tell us about your experience!

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The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet are a congregation of Catholic sisters. We, and those who share our charism and mission, are motivated in all things by our profound love of God and our dear neighbors. We seek to build communities and bridge divides between people. Since our first sisters gathered in 1650, our members have been called to “do all things of which women are capable.” The first sisters of our congregation arrived in St. Louis, Missouri in 1836, and we now have additional locations in St. Paul, Albany, Los Angeles, Hawaii, Japan and Peru. Today, we commit to respond boldly to injustice and dare to be prophetic.

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