In his recent book, We Are The Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast, Jonathan Safran Foer, speaks to his personal 4-point plan to fight climate change. He states concisely what most of us already know — the top four greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions occur as a result of:
3. human overpopulation
4. eating animals
Of these four “bad boys”, animal agriculture alone is responsible for 91% of Amazon deforestation thereby effectively adding to our ever-increasing GHG production.
There’s some dispute as to precisely what proportion of global heating is directly related to the rearing of animals for food, but even the lowest estimates put it on a par with the entire global transportation industry. A well-evidenced 2009 report by the Worldwatch Institute claimed that livestock-related emissions accounted for 51% of all greenhouse gases, “more than all cars, planes, buildings, industry and power plants combined”. Alex Preston, The Guardian
The even more shocking news is that individually and collectively, the majority of people are choosing to remain ignorant or even deny that our planet and climate are in crisis. Indifference and inertia have a death grip on humanity. If we do not act with ethical intentions aimed at any or all of these four GHG emitters, we are instead choosing to manipulate our environment to suit our desires. Using our will in this way does not align us with the intelligence stored in bone and stone. In other words, we are choosing to limit our own physical, energetic, mental-emotional and spiritual growth. Without conscious ethical intentions, we are not living as whole beings connected to everything, impacting everything and being impacted by everything.
As a result, two concrete examples of overindulgence directly related to ill health come to mind — emotional stress and acidic food.
The level of stress with which each of us chooses to live impacts the level of acid in our bodies. Too much stress equates with too much acid, and therefore increased inflammation. Inflammation is a signal that “the body is fighting something harmful and trying to heal itself.” The extra acid produced in the body is a byproduct of metabolism and is excreted through sweat and urine. For optimal health, we want a pH reading (alkaline-acid balance) between 6.5 to 7.5.
Weight gain, heart disease, premature aging, fatigue, nerve problems, allergies, muscle disease, indigestion, and cancer are all more prevalent when the body’s pH is too acidic. Thus reducing one’s level of stress reduces acid production in the body.
A second way to reduce acid intake and production is to reduce the amount of acidic foods we eat. Some data suggest a primary goal is to eat 75-80% alkaline foods along with about 20-25% acidic foods. Relative to the big GHG producer, animal consumption scores high on the acid-inflammation scale.
If acid reflux or other forms of gastro-intestinal ailments are your experience, you might also know that halting the ingestion of high-acid foods, particularly protein, eases and eliminates symptoms. Some of those high acid foods include — bacon, veal, sausage, canned tuna, beef, pork, processed cheese and cream cheese.
Not only does eating animals disrupt the earth’s fine balance it also disrupts the fine balance within our human system. One way to easily reduce acid and inflammation in our body, as well as significantly ease GHG, is to eat in-season, vegetables and fruits. Hence, the popularity of vegan, vegetarian and Mediterranean diets.
Because of my own irritated stomach, I discovered a second means of reducing acid in the body — breathe slowly and deeply as in resonance breathing. Slower, deeper breaths draw in alkalinizing oxygen and force out acid from our tissues.
In my meditation practice, I spend the first 5 to 10 minutes breathing the resonance ratio of 5 to 7 complete breaths per minute. In 5 minutes, my stomach discomfort subsides, my physical body significantly relaxes and my mind calms and quiets allowing for a deeper experience of self. And, by the way, there’s an App for that!
As Foer stated in his book, for each of us to impact our planet and personal health positively, we need to consciously choose a plan of action that we can work on daily. So, here are my conscious contributions to, or New Year’s intentions for, a healthy planet. Some I adopted many years ago and others I am still working on —
1. Restrict flying to once/year.
2. Walk or ride my bicycle daily, particularly if the destination is reachable within 30 minutes.
3. No childbirth; only adoption.
4. Eat a vegan breakfast, a vegetarian lunch, no pork ever, and red meat once a month or less.
How about your New Year’s Intentions? Can you commit to a 4-point plan to get the planet and your health back on track?