Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Eating as a Political, Social, Spiritual Act: The World Peace Diet

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Eating as a Political, Social, Spiritual Act: The World Peace Diet

Article excerpt

Eating as a political, social, spiritual act: The World Peace Diet

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This article was originally published on The Conversation, an independent and nonprofit source of news, analysis and commentary from academic experts. Disclosure information is available on the original site.

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Author: Kathleen Kevany, Associate Professor Sustainable Food Systems, Director of Rural Research Centre, Dalhousie University

We must believe that we are capable of creating "a place of love and mutual assistance and understanding." This is how visionary Tim Berners-Lee described the utopianist John Perry Barlow at the time of his death, adding: "I don't think he was naïve."

Our current climate change crisis calls for this type of bold, inspiring and transformative action. The book Drawdown, The Most Comprehensive Plan to Reverse Global Warming, put out by Project Drawdown, explains, maps, measures and models solutions that are already in place.

"Drawing down" occurs when we succeed in reducing the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere on a year-to-year basis. This is not a daydream. We are currently achieving this on a small scale. If we scale up these efforts we can reverse global warming.

Escalating climate change need not be inevitable like the duration of this summer's extreme heat. It is not too vast or too hard or too complex for us to tackle. It is the most important goal for humanity to undertake at this time.

Eight of the top 25 actions to achieve this reversal involve food. Each one of us can rethink the food we are producing, eating and wasting. And we can call for more government and industry action to support sustainable food systems.

The World Peace Diet offers one way. This diet encourages mindful eating. Advocates say that many animal-based eaters become so largely because of cultural, social and familial pressures. They argue that it is not necessary to carry on these unexamined and outmoded traditions.

Food impacts everything

Eating is personal, public and political and impacts all aspects of human life. Nothing more fully and powerfully influences the daily lives of everyone than our food, food choices and food systems. Food is a tool to nourish life but also for taking political action and for averting the dangers of climate change and preventing unnecessary harm.

If we shift to plant-based diets and plant-rich living, our water, land and fuel will be used more efficiently and ethically. When we channel grains and legumes to animals and away from human consumption we make it more challenging for small producers to compete in the global supply chain and for the poor to obtain adequate nourishment.

An array of problems arise from animal agriculture -- diet-related diseases, food insecurity and inequality, hunger as well as obesity, escalating health-care costs, animal commodification, along with water and air pollution, biodiversity loss and soil deterioration and land degradation.

As it takes many times the resources to produce the same amount of food through animal products, eating more plants and less meat, dairy and eggs would enable a fairer distribution of the world's food and resources.

Many researchers and activists are calling for more sustainable global food systems.

A report from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) on "livestock's long shadow" shows that animal agriculture -- meat production and consumption -- is heating up and polluting the planet's resources.

Sustainability researcher Marco Springmann and his team, with the Future of Food project and the British Heart Foundation predict that the global adoption of a vegetarian diet would result in 7. …

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