“Planet-Based” Eating – Putting the Planet Behind What We Eat

"Planet-Based” Eating – Putting the Planet Behind What We Eat

If you’re living in the 21st century, or are health conscious, you most likely have heard of the term “plant-based”eating. This diet is centered around eating a combination of plants, nuts, seeds and grains to gain a completely balanced nutritional palette.

While plant-based eating offers a healthy and more compassionate solution for those who choose not to eat animals, it doesn’t completely address the more interconnected nature of our world, and how the entirety of what we consume affects the environment.

Many vegan and plant-based foods are highly processed, made from non-organic and GMO-containing ingredients, that are often sourced internationally, and packaged in single-use plastic or other non-recyclable packaging. Yes, it is true that these foods don’t contain animal products, but are they inadvertently harming animals and the environment in another way?

Some foods that happen to be plant-based are very damaging to the environment and the use of them helps contribute to the demise of our natural resources and habitats for animals. It is impossible to ignore the images of orangutans and other forest dwellers running for their lives while their homes are burned or bulldozed down for palm oil plantations, a totally unnecessary oil in our diets. Not only is it unhealthy, but its wide use and ever-increasing demand will leave no room for rainforests. 

 

Plastic is Not the Only Culprit

Quite often, people who are trying to eat healthier, or transition to plant-based eating turn to fish.  They think it is better and don’t realize the harmful impact that both the farmed and the commercial fishing industry have on the environment.  “Fresh” fish and seafood is commonly packed on ice and shipped in styrofoam containers to hundreds of stores, where this styrofoam will then be promptly discarded and sent to the dumpster.  That is a lot of styrofoam!

Fish and ocean dwellers often become entangled in the discarded and damaged fishing nets, lines and equipment.  This is not a small amount of trash and some estimates put fishing industry waste at about 40% of ocean trash.  Most of the time, these innocent bystanders, including seals, dolphins, sharks, sea turtles, birds and whales, cannot avoid the massive nets that are floating in and polluting our oceans.  They suffer greatly as they are maimed, injured, and/or drowned.  Sadly, these nets will remain in the environment for decades to come and are often called, “ghost nets.”

Micro-Plastics

Plastic is a petroleum-based product that can never decompose because the microbes in the soil haven’t evolved to ingest it. The ways we acquire oil are very detrimental to the environment and animals. Once this plastic enters into the food chain, it may break into smaller and smaller pieces, but in some form will exist forever. These micro-plastics, as well as plastic bags and other types of plastic, are often ingested by animals, or cause the animals to become entangled or trapped in them. Micro-plastics find their ways into our oceans and other once pristine areas of wilderness before finding their way back to us through groundwater, food contamination and other sources.   After fish eat the micro-plastics and get consumed by someone else, that person or animal is therefore also ingesting the plastic and the toxic cycle continues, now becoming a part of them – yuck!

Chemical Contamination

Non-organic food is sprayed with toxic pesticides and herbicides that not only harm the soil and pollinators, but also the workers who have to handle it. These workers face exposure to these toxins by directly working with the soil, the plants and the produce. Even if they wear hazmat suits, is this something to which we want to contribute?  If the damage to others and the environment isn’t bad enough, these toxins then pass to us through the food itself. Rinsing the food or produce, puts the chemicals into our groundwater and the environment – yuck!

Shipping

Food that needs to be shipped long distances, particularly perishables, require an incredible amount of fossil fuels, resources and energy for transport and refrigeration, which contributes to climate change and threatens a mass extinction of species across the globe. These foods also require excessive packaging to ensure that will stay fresh during their long journey.

Food Waste

Did you know that food waste also contributes to greenhouse gases from the rotting organic matter in the landfills? Some sources say up to 30% of methane and greenhouse gases come from our landfills. It is very difficult, if not impossible for food to break down in landfills because it is entombed in plastic containers, wrapped in cellophane wrap, and probably also in plastic bags! It does not have exposure to the oxygen and aeration that it needs to break down into a soil-enriching, earth-friendly compost. Properly disposing of food waste, composting it and diverting it from landfills helps to reduce this preventable source of additional greenhouse gases.

What is “Planet-Based” Eating?

What can we do? We would like to introduce the concept of “planet-based” eating because it aims to address these issues through examining the sources of our food and the packaging.

Over the last fifty years, we have gradually moved away from valuing our local economies.  Supermarkets have come to provide ease of accessibility and convenience at all costs.  Summer foods, such as grapes or melons, are now available year-round!  It wasn’t that long ago when the only option provided for bagging groceries was brown paper bags.  Although re-usuable bags are a better choice, at least brown paper bags could later be used for something else and did not pollute the planet when they biodegraded.

Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be this way!  In recent years, farmers markets have expanded, providing many more options for buying organically-produced, local products. Also CSA (Community-Supported Agriculture) farm shares – a portion of the crops in exchange for a few hours of labor, or a per-season fee – have become more trendy and accessible. These are great ways to not only get to know your local farmers, but to get your hands in the soil and connect to the earth.  This form of exercise is way more fun than the gym!

Growing your own produce is also an option. If you have a backyard, or even a sunny balcony, starting a small garden is a great way to grow your own produce, such as herbs and greens. Slowing down, spending time in nature, and reaping the direct benefit of the earth’s abundance has the ability to affect our overall well being, as well as our physical health.

Many urban areas are now starting community gardens so more people can have access to gardening space and home-grown food. Maybe you have a friend that needs help with their garden, or has gardening space that isn’t being used? What a great way to spend quality time together!

This also forces us to examine what grows seasonally and how we can adjust our eating to incorporate those seasonal foods, which takes us back to our roots, and helps us to develop a closer connection to the earth. We can preserve extra produce through freezing, dehydrating or canning (for those who are super-ambitious). This reduces the use of single-use packaging that comes with pre-purchased frozen and dehydrated foods. We can preserve and store these things in jars or reusable containers. Life is busy and living closer to the earth takes more time and effort, but these actions have so much to give for our future.

Canned fresh tomatoes

Why Organic?

Choosing organic foods is also very important when considering “planet-based” eating. As we start to understand the importance of a functioning ecosystem, we see how the use of pesticides that deplete the top soil nutrients, destroy essential micro-organisms and kill insects that help to pollinate, is actually extremely destructive.

Supporting organic agriculture is helping to support farming the land in a way that benefits ecosystems, and replenishes the soil instead of depleting it. It may seem like it is more expensive, but the additional labor that goes into hand-picking weeds and producing healthier plants through healthier soils makes higher quality, organically-produced food more labor-intensive. Organic farming practices cannot compete with chemicals and machines.

It is possible to live in harmony with nature! Organically-grown food not only benefits the planet and others, but also is healthier for us.

What’s In Your Food?

Instead of relying on heavily processed and packaged foods, “planet-based” eating asks us to examine what’s in our food. It urges us to ensure we are eating plenty of whole, plant-based ingredients with minimal processing.

So take all that amazing organic produce from local markets, farm shares, or your own garden, and cook up whole food meals that will nourish you and your family from the inside out. Buy bulk ingredients, whenever possible, and don’t forget to use your own bag or container!  Many times, this is more economical.  Slow down and enjoy the process of cooking. Make it a family activity in which everyone can participate (and help with clean-up). Sharing food with one another can be an incredible bonding experience. Food can be our most potent form of medicine.

Recently, many farm-to-table restaurants are starting to spring up, so that’s another wonderful option for supporting local food. If your local restaurants don’t offer plant-based food, or better yet, “planet-based” options, request them. There may also be local Meet-Up groups in your area where you can meet like-minded folks that are also trying to learn more about plant-based food, locally-grown food or how to grow more of their own food.  Check them out!

Our dollars are essentially a vote for the kind of world we want to build and live in, and through that lens we are able to see how what we support grows.

Ahimsa

One of the goals of “planet-based” eating is to increase our awareness of our interconnectedness with the ecosystems of the planet, and how we can use mindfulness and compassion to make choices that reflect that mindset.

This directly links to the core principle of LWH – Ahimsa, which is compassion and reverence for all living beings and encompassing the intent to create the least amount of harm possible. To read more about it, see our previous post: Behind the LWH Logo and Mission.

At a time in history where the beauty of the natural world is in danger, choosing to live with Ahimsa is more important than ever. We have the power to change the world through intentional and inspired action. Aligning our lives with our moral values not only helps us to come into vibrant health, but will help restore balance to the planet. It all starts with us.

What benefits our health, benefits the health of the whole planet. “Planet-based” eating can be used as a tool to help restore and nourish our inner, and outer vibrant health and the health of the planet. It is a concept that may not be an option in all situations, but is something to think about and strive for to help create a kinder world.  We can use it as a guide to help make the best choices possible.

This blog was written by volunteer blogger, Madeline Rubin.

Madeline is a blogger and freelance writer passionate about sustainable living and the zero waste movement. She focuses on the connection between spirituality and sustainability, positing that taking time to connect with nature is the first step in awakening compassion for ourselves, the planet and all living things. She uses sustainable living as a spiritual practice to treat the earth with kindness and respect and to live a life of abundance and balance. She strives to help empower others to do the same. To read more of her work, or to inquire into other freelance services she offers, visit her website www.backtonature.life

 

Today in the face of an increasingly harmful and isolated culture, there is nothing we need more than a physical place to heal, connect, and grow. 

This is why we are working to create a progressive, inclusive, and life-affirming animal sanctuary and retreat facility. Our facility will be based on the core values of compassion, acceptance, refuge and encouragement.

Meet Living With Harmony’s Co-founder, JP

Introducing our Co-founder

JP, or John Pierre, is the co-founder of LWH, along with Andrea Rose. He travels extensively around the country lecturing about the concept of Ahimsa, the powers of  plant-based eating, health and fitness and other humanitarian efforts. For those of you in our community who don’t know him and haven’t had the privilege of seeing his lectures, we wanted to provide an interview to introduce you in more depth to the work that he does and how that is greatly impacting the vision we have for the future of LWH.

Q: Tell us a little about yourself.

A: My name is John Pierre and my website is www.johnpierre.com. I’ve been following a plant-based diet for over 34 years as well as teaching nutrition and fitness. I’ve spent over 25 years working in the geriatric field where I created the first brain-building program centered around a plant-based diet. It incorporated nutraceuticals (nutrients for the brain), the ancient art of aromatherapy (essential oils), physical exercises that stimulate brain activity and mental games to enhance nerve growth. I have volunteered with animal advocacy groups and women’s organizations for 30 years.  I have led lectures on health, fitness and personal safety.  Part of my work included collecting and organizing clothing and toiletry items to donate to women and children’s shelters in the United States, Asia and Mexico.  I also led food drives for these organizations, enabling them to have access to healthier food.  More recently, for the past few years, I have worked hand-in-hand with Project Child Save, an organization that is very special to me.  LWH is a proud sponsor of this wonderful organization that helps children rescued from trafficking around the world.

I have written  two books.  The first one is The Pillars of Health , Your Foundation for Lifelong Wellness and the second one is Strong Savvy Safe, Empowering Tools for Self-Protection and Vibrant Health. I also help run a very successful ultimate weight-loss program with Chef AJ and have created multiple cooking DVDs. I have been teaching classes at the North American Vegetarian Society’s (NAVS) Summerfest since 1994 and in 2014 I was inducted into the Vegetarian Hall of Fame, a great honor.

Q: Why did you start following a vegan lifestyle?

A: I went vegan when I first became aware that the majority of food I was eating was once a living, sentient being. I never thought about the fact that a hamburger, fish filet, or pork chop was once a conscious breathing animal. Then I began to learn about the environmental consequences of a meat-based diet and soon to follow, I learned about the negative health implications of following an animal-based diet towards your well-being. I have always wanted to live a kind and gentle life where I do as little harm as possible.  I believe that we all have a responsibility to protect the planet and the animals to the best of our ability. I found the vegan lifestyle encompassed most of my beliefs allowing me to lead as compassionate a life as possible.  The vegan lifestyle was actually a perfect fit for me.

Q: What inspired you to become a nutritional consultant? 

A: Starting in high school, I was fortunate enough to work in an amazing, supportive, family-run health food store where I had access to hundreds of books and magazines and had the opportunity to attend seminars and natural food conferences.   I began implementing this newly acquired knowledge into my life and noticed that my energy and athletic performance improved by adding more fresh fruits and vegetables and eliminating animal products.  This was exciting news that needed to be shared with as many people as possible.  I became fascinated with the intricate science behind our food choices. I noticed that many people’s dietary choices were diminishing their own vitality and well-being.  As a side effect, it also contributed to the unnecessary suffering and killing of animals and to the destruction of our planet.  I figured what better career could I choose than the field of nutrition that would simultaneously help people to live healthier, more fulfilling lives and help protect the environment and animals.  I wanted to help make this life-transforming information accessible to everyone as quickly as possible.

Q: It seems that you have been on a lifelong mission to share this information with others. 

A: Yes, I have grown to become an advocate for the planet, animals and humanity.  Ultimately, we are all one and have to learn to live harmoniously together.

Q: Why did you decide to start Living With Harmony?

A: Andrea Rose and I founded LWH as a non-profit (501(c)(3)), to help raise awareness surrounding the preservation and restoration of the environment as well as the suffering of animals. We want to serve as a resource to educate individuals on how to create more vitality, well-being and reduce their risk of disease through plant-based eating. We wanted to put everything we are working on together under one roof so that we can not only help those in need, but to also educate people about the causes that we most hold dear.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit more about the classes you will be teaching at the Living With Harmony Sanctuary and Retreat Center? 

A: Nutritional education will play a key role in all that we do. Classes on sprouting and micro-greens and the benefits of smoothies and blended soups will also be a core component of our curriculum. We have some of the top chefs in the nation who are eager to start preparing delicious food for our visitors at our Cafe and to teaching classes on plant-based eating. As a core component of our Sustainable Harmony retreat center, we will have classes on simpler living, composting, reducing waste and gardening. The most popular classes that I’ve taught have been my boot camp fitness classes. Here is a video of me leading Ellen DeGeneres and her staff in a workout. We will be teaching a wide variety of fitness classes, healing modalities, meditation and mobility training.

Q: What message is at the core of LWH?

A: The core of LWH is based on the Sanskrit term Ahimsa which means compassion and reverence for all beings. We also seek to teach that we are stewards of the land and animals and that we must act accordingly to help protect and preserve them. To read about our company mission, please read our previous post Behind the LWH Logo and Mission.

Q: How will LWH impact the community?

A: We seek to educate, inspire and connect with our community members. We welcome people with open arms, keeping in mind that many of the concepts we teach may be foreign to them. One of our core values and beliefs is that it is important to bring people together. We want to impact our neighborhood by creating community and by bringing people together in a welcoming, loving and supportive environment.  

Q: What is your vision for the future of LWH?

A: We are currently fundraising to purchase our retreat center in or near Boulder, Colorado, where we will create a home for rescued animals, have a space to teach classes and bring in speakers to educate and inspire others. Our goal is to add more love and compassion to people’s lives on a daily basis. 

Q: What are the next steps for making that vision a reality?

A: We currently need financial donations of any size that will go towards purchasing a retreat center in Colorado and to help run our current programs. We also would welcome the donation of an established property or land. In addition, we are in need of help with fundraising, social media management and outreach. We appreciate any help that can assist us in bringing our vision of a LWH facility to the next level.

Q: What is currently on the LWH agenda?

A: I just finished a three-day conference in California where Living With Harmony had a booth and I taught two classes.  I recently taught a class on plant-based eating and athletic performance to a fire station in L.A.   I also completed a Facebook Live video about the benefits of a plant-based diet, compassion and the destructive nature of animal agriculture. I taught a class at a yoga studio on my first book, The Pillars of Health and then completed a Facebook Live video for Weight-loss Wednesday that I teach with Chef AJ. I am also continually working on collecting financial contributions, along with medical gear, healthy snacks, shoes and boxes of toys for Project Child Save, the organization that we work with that rescues children from trafficking around the world.

July 4th – 8th, NAVS Summerfest in Johnstown, PA.  Living With Harmony will have a booth and I will be teaching classes all week.  This will be my 24th year in a row!

July 28th – 29th, Living With Harmony will have a booth at Colorado VegFest at the 1st Bank Center in Broomfield, Colorado. It will be our first educational outreach event on the front range, which will be a wonderful opportunity for our local community to come and see what we’re all about. Both Andrea and I will be there. We are hoping to spread more awareness about the zero waste lifestyle and are excited to be introducing attendees to the benefits of composting!  We will offer composting at our booth and feature products geared toward zero waste and sustainable living for people to see. We hope to see you there!

Q: How can those who wish to contribute get involved?

A: We appreciate you, our community members, without whom none of this would be possible. If you would like to get involved, make a donation or become a volunteer, go to www.livingwithharmony.org or call 224-216-9054.

This interview was conducted by volunteer blogger, Madeline Rubin.

Madeline is a blogger and freelance writer passionate about sustainable living and the zero waste movement. She focuses on the connection between spirituality and sustainability, positing that taking time to connect with nature is the first step in awakening compassion for ourselves, the planet and all living things. She uses sustainable living as a spiritual practice to treat the earth with kindness and respect and to live a life of abundance and balance. She strives to help empower others to do the same. To read more of her work, or to inquire into other freelance services she offers, visit her website www.backtonature.life

Today in the face of an increasingly harmful and isolated culture, there is nothing we need more than a physical place to heal, connect, and grow. 

This is why we are working to create a progressive, inclusive, and life-affirming animal sanctuary and retreat facility. Our facility will be based on the core values of compassion, acceptance, refuge and encouragement.