Stuck in Monday morning traffic in your compact car with your carpool buddy, you might groan as you crawl by a massive SUV with only the driver on board. But before you lament the apparent lack of consideration the driver beside you has for the planet, consider what they might have had for breakfast. Because if it was a plant-based start to a Meatless Monday, they may be making as big an impact on their carbon footprint with their food choices as you are with your morning commute.

It might come as a surprise, but what you eat—specifically, the degree to which your food choices are plant-based—can put a more significant dent in your personal CO2e contribution than almost any other change you can make. That’s right, in addition to the many health benefits associated with diets rich in nutrient dense, whole plant-based foods, a plant-based diet can drastically lessen your strain on the environment.

Every Plant-Based Choice Matters

Why does what you eat matter? It’s simple. Whole, plant-based foods use fewer resources and produce fewer emissions than animal-based foods. Every plant-based food choice makes a difference— even if you’re not eating 100% plant-based.  That’s because plant-based foods are much easier on the environment: plants don’t need grass for grazing, grain for eating, years for growing, and don’t excrete methane-emitting waste, thereby requiring significantly less land, maintenance, water, energy to produce.

The global average carbon footprint is 4 tons of CO2 equivalent emissions per person per year. But if you’re eating completely plant-based, your yearly carbon emissions are1.5 metric tons less than someone eating average North American diet.

Better for the Planet, Better for You.

According to a study published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations , livestock production makes up 18% of all CO2e emissions—more than the entire transportation sector. One of the easiest ways to reduce your food-related emissions—and (conveniently) to support your long term health—is to choose more whole, plant-based foods. The less processed your food is, the better—not just for your health, but from an environmental standpoint, too. The more processing and refining needed before you eat it, the more energy has gone into making that food. And when you compare processed, non-plant-based food options to whole, plant-based foods, you get far more nutrition relative to production cost from seed to plate. Brendan Brazier (professional Ironman triathlete and bestselling author on performance nutrition) calls this the nutrient-to-resource ratio, which describes the relationship between how many resources foods require to produce to the nutritional value they deliver.

When foods have a higher nutrient-to-resource ratio, you get more nutrition relative to the amount of CO2e released. This means that whether you’re just taking your first forays into the Meatless Monday routine or you’re a seasoned raw vegan localvore, you’re getting more nutrition while also treading more lightly on Mother Earth.

Get Started with Thrive Forward

Even when you’re motivated to make changes that are good for you and the planet, not knowing how to start can stop you before you begin. That’s why Brendan Brazier developed Thrive Forward: a FREE, personalized online program to help transform your health through plant-based nutrition. Walking you through the basics with Clean Eating 101, each video lesson with Brendan guides your journey to optimal health through customized wellness topics most relevant to you—whether it’s energy, stress, sleep, body composition, mood, or even how to eat more sustainably.

When you sign up for Thrive Forward, you’ll receive:

•    11 chapters, 30+ video lessons, and a personalized learn-at-your-own-pace lesson plan to help you navigate a wealth of ideas (without getting lost)
•    Emailed tips: encourage you to make changes that work with your life with helpful take-away tips reinforce what you’re learning
•    Action items: apply what you learn in each lesson, and share tips and tricks with others
•    Supplemental materials: including recipes, meal plans, shopping lists, charts, printable reference guides, in-depth articles, and more

Small Steps, Big Difference

The very first lesson of Thrive Forward’s Clean Eating 101 offers a simple way to ease into meaningful change—start your day with a blended, plant-based smoothie. Giving you a week of delicious ideas, the Blank Canvas Smoothie recipe provided with the lesson shows you how to incorporate premium, plant-based nutrition easily into your day.

Take your morning smoothie to the next level by adding a serving of Vega One Nutritional Shake. Made from natural, whole food ingredients, Vega One is a convenient, all-in-one supplement, packed with 50% daily intake of vitamins and minerals, 15g protein, 6g fibre, 1.5g Omega-3, plus antioxidants, probiotics and greens. Take Vega One daily to:

•    Cover your key nutrient bases for optimal health
•    Provide energy to sustain an active life
•    Help metabolize fats, proteins and carbohydrates
•    Support normal glucose metabolism
•    Develop strong bones and teeth and maintain healthy skin and eyes
•    Facilitate proper muscle function and repair of connective tissue
•    Promote natural, healthy intestinal flora
•    Help support a healthy immune system

Formulated by Brendan Brazier, Vega One is free from dairy, gluten and soy. Low glycemic with no added sugar, Vega One is also free from artificial flavours, colours or sweeteners.

Enjoy it in French Vanilla,  Berry, Chocolate, Vanilla Chai and Natural flavour as a delicious, nutrient-supplementing addition to your favourite smoothie, or shaken with water, juice or a non-dairy beverage of your choice.

Start your Thrive Forward journey today and learn how you can feel better—and help you reduce your carbon footprint—one plant-based meal (or Vega One-enhanced smoothie) at a time.

1 Steinfeld, Henning,  Gerber, Pierre , Wassenaar, Tom, Castel, Vincent, Rosales,  Mauricio, and  de Haan, Cees. (2006). Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options.  Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Accessed on January 21, 2013 from