Today, people in 192 countries are banding together in peaceful demonstration to celebrate Earth Day. Founded in the twilight of the hippie movement, the first Earth Day was held on April 22, 1970 and is now the largest secular holiday in the world. Due in part to events like Earth Day, we’ve learned a lot about our environment and what we need to change to keep the blue marble spinning a while longer.
The word “green”— now an adjective, noun, and verb—is synonymous in our culture for expansive and minute efforts in environmental sustainability. Not surprisingly, there are a number of “green” diets. In celebration of Earth Day 2013, we’ve compiled nine eco-friendly diets that will help you reach your weight loss and fitness goals while reducing your carbon footprint.
The Kind Diet is a book by actress and vegan Alicia Silverstone that illustrates the benefits of a plant-based diet. Silverstone uses the book to show that a vegan diet can not only help your body, but help animals and the planet, too. The diet is beneficial because it allows you to progress in stages and preserves animal life on Earth. However, the drastic change to a plant-based diet may be too extreme for some, as no meat, dairy, or animal products are allowed.
Developed by registered dietitian Sharon Palmer, the Plant-Powered Diet puts plants and vegetables at the center of the plate. Palmer presents endless advantages—weight loss, heart health, longer life—to making plants the basis of your diet. While there are four programs to choose from and two of them do not require giving up meat, the diet could be a major adjustment for those used to a diet of processed foods.
Drs. T. Colin Campbell and Caldwell B. Esselstyn surmise that eating a plant based diet could save your life. They are adamant about the ills of ingesting meat and dairy, and preach that no other eating program can give you the benefits a whole food and plant based diet can. This in-depth diet includes 125 recipes, a step-by-step transition system, and many personal success stories of those who made the switch to green eating.
Skinny Bitch is a humorous, brash take on dieting for the modern girl. Written by brazen best friends, the book uses colorful language to convey the lifestyle benefits of going vegan. The book is supported by hard-hitting scientific research, offers a healthy approach to weight loss, but doesn’t address exercise.
Professor, author, and food-guru, Michael Pollan, gives an eye-opening look into how American food evolves (or devolves) from farm to fork. Pollan analyzes the four channels of our food system: the industrial farming industry, the organic food industry, the local food movement and the food that we forage ourselves. The author provides examples of how you can eat more sustainably, but the eye-opening facts might horrify those unaware of how processed food is created.
Firefighter Rip Esselstyn (the son of Dr. Esselstyn from Forks Over Knives) developed an environmentally sustainable, plant-based diet book that is also man-friendly. The program consists of a 28-day meal plan full of whole foods, vegetables, fruits, seeds, and nuts. Esselstyn has all your bases covered, and the diet has been proven to lower cholesterol. The program is geared more toward lowering cholesterol than losing weight, and is endorsed by Dr. Dean Ornish.
The Flexitarian Diet is a flexible program that painlessly steers you from carnivore to vegetarian. Medical and health experts agree that when done correctly, a vegetarian diet is one of the healthiest styles of eating for you and the planet. It features three levels of vegetarian eating while not totally phasing out meat. However, it encourages eating less meat, which has been linked to lower incidents of certain cancers and reduces your carbon footprint. Because some carnivorism is allowed, the program may offend staunch vegetarians and vegans.
Written by bestselling author Kathy Freston, The Lean guides you through a nutrient dense vegan diet that will sustain fullness and stop cravings. The eco-friendly diet is a 30-day plan that emphasizes exercise and promotes small steps in reaching your weight loss goals. While you can expect weight loss of one to three pounds per week, the vegan diet may not be appealing for all.
Author and former raw vegan Susan Schenck wrote this diet book after her seven-year stint as a vegetarian left her suffering with B12 deficiencies, memory loss, bloat, and fatigue. Her well-researched book details the benefits of staying away from strictly plant based-eating and incorporating small amounts of meat into your diet. Schenk emphasizes eating organic foods, which is good for the environment and small farms.