Eating healthy is not only good for your body, but also for the planet. That is the main message of a column by Jeff Wheeldon, a local environmentalist and writer, published in The Carillon on Friday, Oct. 13, 2023. In his column, Wheeldon argues that we need to change our diets and lifestyles to reduce our environmental impact and live more sustainably.
The Problem of Agriculture
Wheeldon begins his column by citing a CBC News report that showed that exercise does very little to help us lose weight. He uses this as an analogy to explain how efficiency alone is not enough to solve our environmental problems. He says that we tend to use as much energy as we can afford, regardless of how efficient we are. He also says that we need to adopt a functionality mindset instead of a scarcity mindset, and ask ourselves how much we really need.
He then focuses on the problem of agriculture, which he says accounts for 70 percent of global water use, uses sixty times more land than all urban and suburban areas combined, and is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gases and water pollution. He says that with an increasing population, we need to increase food production by as much as three times over the next century, but the system is already unsustainable.
The Solution of Eating Less
Wheeldon’s solution is simple: eat less. He says that we need to change our diets and eat less meat, less dairy, less sugar, and less altogether. He says that a balanced diet is possible, but terribly uncommon. He also says that eating is a political act, and every meal affects others and our waistlines.
He compares eating less to eating our vegetables, and says that it is good for us and for the planet. He gives some practical tips on how to reduce our food footprint, such as choosing grass-fed beef, carpooling, buying locally, or eating in-season items. He says that small changes add up over time, and imperfection calls for improvement rather than apathy.
He concludes his column by saying that eating healthy is not only a personal choice, but also a social responsibility. He says that we can live lightly and longer by eating lightly.
The Response of the Readers
Wheeldon’s column has received mixed reactions from the readers of The Carillon. Some have praised him for raising awareness about the environmental impact of our food choices, and shared their own experiences of changing their diets and lifestyles. Others have criticized him for being unrealistic, hypocritical, or preachy, and argued that eating less is not feasible or desirable for everyone.
Some of the comments from the readers are:
- “Thank you for this insightful column. I have been vegetarian for over a year now, and I feel much better physically and mentally. I also feel good about doing my part to protect the environment.”
- “This is nonsense. Eating less will make us weak and sick. We need meat and dairy to get enough protein and calcium. And what about the farmers who depend on agriculture for their livelihood? You are hurting them by telling people to eat less.”
- “I agree with some of your points, but I think you are too extreme. Eating less is not the only solution. We can also eat more sustainably by choosing organic, fair-trade, or local products. We can also support initiatives that promote urban farming, food waste reduction, or plant-based alternatives.”
- “You are a hypocrite. You say you want to save the planet, but you still drive a car and use electricity. You should never drive your car ever again if you don’t like fossil fuels. And don’t tell me what to eat. It’s my personal choice.”