Eco council discusses eco-friendly diets

On the 27th of March, the Middle and High School Eco Council had a Q & A session with Mr Allard to discuss some eco-friendly changes regarding school meals.

The main topics that were discussed were:

  • Having a 'no meat day' at school
  • Awareness around eating less red meat
  • Choosing more sustainable meat
  • The environmental impact of vegetarian meals

Here is a summary of our discussions:

There are lots of reasons many young kids are told that eating meat will make them grow up big and strong. Indeed, red meat is a great source of iron, which is needed to make haemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying protein found in red blood cells. Without enough iron, this whole process slows down. This means that iron plays an essential role in maintaining a person's energy levels. According to the health guide from the New York Times, a subject with iron deficiency can expect to feel a lack of energy, shortness of breath, and headache. However, some vegetables contain as much iron (such as legumes, tofu, bean peas and so on) as meats and are are more beneficial than meat. The only difference is that these vegetables have a better impact on the environment than red meat.

So why should we still eat meat if there other eco-friendly options?

Meat has a very large water consumption of 75% which reduces the water in our planet. Meat also has many alternatives as an iron source such as legumes and vegetables. As a result the reduction of meat would be a better solution and a more eco friendly choice.

A plant-based diet, which emphasises fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, legumes and nuts, is rich in fiber, vitamins and other nutrients. People who do not eat meat — like vegetarians — generally eat fewer calories and less fat; they generally weigh less, and have a lower risk of heart disease than non-vegetarians do.

Even reducing meat intake has a protective effect. Research shows that people who eat red meat are at an increased risk of death from heart disease, stroke or diabetes. Processed meats also increase the risk of death from these diseases.

So what are the pros and cons of having a vegetable-based diet?

Vegetarian sources such as soybeans and avocados have a large impact on the environment. For example soybeans require a lot of landscape, acid-neutralising lime, synthetic fertilisers, pesticides, and herbicides. These chemicals from the production of soybeans contaminate forests, rivers, and destroy wildlife. Moreover, avocados require a large amount of water, and many trees are being cut in Mexico to provide woodland to grow avocado crops.

A possible solution would be to reduce the amount of meat and the portion of meat eaten per day and eat seasonal fruits and vegetables.

To conclude, we would like to thank Mr Allard for participating in the interview with us. We enjoyed talking about these topics and exchanging different thoughts and opinions.

The Eco Council is now working on organising a range of virtual activities for International Earth Day, celebrated worldwide on 22nd April. Stay tuned for more news!

- Thamadi, Year 11 Eco Council member

International Earth Day poster created by the MHS Eco Council