Going green is not only good for the climate, but also often for your own health. For example, those who eat less fat, and especially meat, reduce their LDL cholesterol levels in their blood and thus their risk of arteriosclerosis and therefore also of heart attack, stroke and chronic cardiovascular diseases.
Meat, sausages and cheese: 70 percent of greenhouse gases from German food
But Germans eat a very high-fat diet, especially animal foods. In doing so, they increase their body fat, their risk of disease, and they also pollute the climate: German consumption of meat, sausage, and cheese causes about 70 percent of food-related greenhouse gas emissions in Germany, according to a study conducted by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in 2021. Therefore, if you eat less meat, you protect yourself from climate change.
Eat healthy for the planet and for you
A diet that is good for the body and the planet in the long run is the central idea of the Planetary Health Diet: Much less meat, much less sugar, and more vegetables, especially more legumes and nuts.
The Lancet Climate Countdown Commission has calculated that 150,000 deaths in Germany could be prevented each year by consuming less meat. dr Eckart von Hirschhausen, founder of the “Healthy Earth, Healthy People” foundation, sees this as the biggest lever in health prevention: “Eating less meat is a renunciation. It is giving up a heart attack and a stroke,! And I’m happy to give that up!”
Less meat: less hunger in the world
According to the report of the so-called EAT Lancet Commission, in the coming decades the world’s food needs will increase to half of what they are today. The future world population will reach 10 billion people in 2050. Feeding them sustainably and fairly and within the ecological limits of the earth will only be possible if rich countries fundamentally change their diet.
Therefore, the diet itself becomes a small piece of the puzzle to solve global problems. Everything is connected to everything else: meat consumption, fodder production, land depletion, burning of fossil fuels, air pollution, global warming, dry spells, crop failures, famine. . Ultimately, the co-benefit of not eating meat is the reduction of global poverty.
Cycling: burn body fat instead of fossil fuels
The bicycle for health and against the climate crisis should not be underestimated, because motorized traffic generates greenhouse gases, particulate matter, traffic noise and traffic accidents, all of which are harmful to health. Cycling doesn’t do any of that, and Hirschhausen adds: “You prevent lack of exercise, you train your sense of balance and endurance, in short: you keep your brain and heart healthy.”
Pointing out such connections, such win-win situations, is now part of the conversation with patients, says allergist and climate and health expert Professor Claudia Traidl-Hoffmann. The director of environmental medicine at the University Hospital Augsburg and Helmholtz Munich believes that the small side benefits should not be underestimated and could be a motivation for healthier nutrition.
Eat regionally against allergies
According to Traidl-Hoffmann, for example, regional apples have less allergic potential than those that have been transported long distances: Apples transported long distances release more major allergens, which can trigger stronger allergies, says the doctor. Therefore, it is good for your health and the climate to buy regional fruit varieties.