Shruti Bansal

Shruti Bansal, an environmental blogger who is a post-graduate (M. Tech) from IIT Kanpur in Environmental Engineering & Management. She has a diverse experience of about 4 years working with educational institutes (Jahaan Preschool), corporates (e.g. IL&FS), a research institute (e.g. NIDM) and start-ups (GCRS, Pro India). Her experience and research area include Climate Change, Climate Change Adaptation, Disaster Management, Solid Waste Management and Carbon Footprints. She is keen on utilizing her talent for the betterment of the environment. With experience as a Founding Principal of Jahaan Principal, she has also an interest in Early Childhood Education.

Everyone wants to look good and be in good shape. Taking a healthy diet and working out are the primary thoughts that comes in our mind to get a good physique. However, the trend of eating junk, fast and highly processed food has come, which sometimes even overpowers our desire to remain fit. Eating this unhealthy food is deteriorating our body and this practice is negatively impacting our planet. Consumption of unhealthy food is equally unhealthy for the planet. The intake of junk, fast or highly processed food has many environmental, social and health impacts. Let’s understand in the coming section:

Figure 1 Impacts of unhealthy food (Source: https://madforgreen.blogspot.com/2020/08/your-healthy-diet-can-make-our-planet.html)

Carbon Footprints

Animal products in the form of meat, dairy item or eggs are the primary ingredients in the fast food. The high consumption of fast food has increased the demand for animal agriculture. And sadly, animal agriculture has high GHGs emissions. This sector contributes to about 15% of global human-based GHG emissions [1]

Water Footprints

The Fast food industry is water-intensive industry. The worldwide consumption of water is about 10% in these industries.

Deforestation

Animal agriculture has now covered up almost 30% of earth’s area [2]. This sector has been the primary cause of conversion of forest land into grazing land or farming land.

Worldwide Hunger

Feeding animals requires a huge quantity of grains. Did you know about 25 kg of grain is required to make 1 kg of beef? Yes, 25 kg of grain just to produce 1 kg of beef [3]. This increased demand lessens the supply of grains and increases its demand, which in turn escalates its price. The rise in grain price reduces the affordability of the poor sector and increases the starvation in the poor community.

Unethical treatment with the animals

Animals are treated badly, they are forced to survive in a congested area, deprived to stay with their loved one and killed unethically. They are slaughtered in the worst possible way.

Solid Waste

There is no doubt, the fast food industry generates a huge amount of waste in the form of packaging waste (e.g. paper tissues, boxes, straws, cups). The primary ingredient is Styrofoam and this ingredient degrades slowly. It takes roughly 900 years for Styrofoam to decompose [4]

Health

Unhealthy food is detrimental to your body. Taking fast food is the leading cause of depression, diabetes, it speeds up the ageing process, increases cholesterol, causes acne breakout, headache, breath shortness etc [4].

Sustainability and healthy food choice

Consumption of unhealthy food is deteriorating our body and our planet. Choosing a healthier diet has always been good for our mother earth. There are only a few exceptions to this e.g fish which is considered healthy has a higher negative impact on earth whereas sugar beverages which are considered bad for consumption has a lower impact on our planet. But on a broader range, leaving few exceptions on side healthy food can be associated with healthy planet [3]

Here are the few indicators to promote sustainability through your food:

  • Do not waste food. Food wastage has enormous carbon footprints.
  • Choose healthier (e.g. nuts, fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains and olive oil) products in your diet
  • Adopt diversified options in your meal. As it promotes proper utilisation of resources and also prevents the over-consumption of popular meals.
  • Plan before going out for shopping to buy food items. And resist yourself from buying unnecessary items.

References

  1. https://www.envirotech-online.com/news/business-news/44/breaking-news/how-does-fast-food-impact-the-environment/48286
  2. https://theconversation.com/five-ways-the-meat-on-your-plate-is-killing-the-planet-76128
  3. https://madforgreen.blogspot.com/2020/08/your-healthy-diet-can-make-our-planet.html
  4. https://www.onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/10-ways-fast-food-is-destroying-the-world/
  5. https://www.healthline.com/health/fast-food-effects-on-body#sugar-and-fat