Eating Green: Part 1

Eating green foods (think green vegetables and fruits, not leftover green jelly beans!) can be very healthy. Dark green vegetables contain a plethora of nutrients, such as Vitamin C, Vitamin K, folate, calcium, iron, and carotenoids, including lutein and zeaxanthin, which help to protect eye health.

There is another way to interpret eating “green,” however, and that is eating with the environment in mind. There are various approaches to this.


The approach with by far the most impact is to eat a plant-based diet. Vegan diets, which eliminate all animal products, are the most eco- and animal-friendly. Animal-based products tend to release more carbon emissions than plant-based products, due to the methane animals produce and the water, energy and feed required for production.  Recent analyses have shown that vegan diets have a significantly lower carbon footprint than diets heavier in animal products

There are other types of vegetarian diets for those of us who may need more flexibility, or who are not ready to eliminate all animal products: Lacto-ovo vegetarians include dairy and eggs in their diet, while lacto-vegetarians include dairy only and ovo-vegetarians include eggs only. Pesca-vegetarians include fish (often in addition to eggs and dairy), and semi-vegetarians (also called flexi-tarians) include some meat, often choosing red meat more sparingly, or eating meat less often or only on special occasions.

If the change seems overwhelming, start by joining the global movement Meatless Mondays, and eliminate meat from your plate just one day a week.  Popular meals that easily lend themselves to becoming vegetarian:  Spaghetti with marinara sauce, tacos with refried beans, pizza–hold the meat toppings, vegetable stir fries (with tofu or meat substitutes if desired), and veggie burgers subbed in for the meat version. Even small changes can make a big difference for your health, and the health of the environment.