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New Online Calculators Encourage Eating Green

Consumers Can Check Impact of Diet on Health, Environment, & Animal Welfare on EatingGreen.org

August 16, 2006

Two interactive online calculators on the new Eating Green web site from the Center for Science in the Public Interest allow consumers to gauge the health, environmental, and animal welfare impact of their diet. The “Score your Diet” calculator provides a qualitative assessment of one’s diet on those three fronts, while the “Eating Green” calculator provides a quantitative assessment of the environmental costs of the meat and other animal products in one’s diet, and shows how small dietary changes can help an individual’s health and the health of the planet.

For example, replacing just one serving of beef, one egg and one serving of cheese per day with fruit, vegetables or whole grains would spare the need for 1.8 acres of cropland, 40 pounds of fertilizer and three ounces of pesticides each year, according to the site. This change also would increase an individual’s daily dietary fiber intake by 16 grams and reduce fat intake by 22 grams. Plus, users can see how eating a lot of fruit, choosing grass-fed instead of grain-fed beef, or cutting back on eggs can change one’s health, environment, and animal welfare scores.

Consumers can also take an interactive tour of the food supply from the fertilizer factory to feedlot to the dinner plate, and learn about problems associated with modern meat production. The web site represents a new strategy on the part of the 35-year-old organization to make an environmental case for more plant-based, though not necessarily vegetarian, diets. That strategy is described most fully in CSPI’s new book, Six Arguments for a Greener Diet ($14.95, ISBN 0893290491). That book discusses the links between animal-based foods and chronic and infectious diseases; environmental pollution, depletion of aquifers, and soil erosion; and animal welfare.

“There’s something here for you whether you care about global warming or whether you care about your waistline,” said CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson. “People should consider 'eating green' both for altruistic reasons, since it’s much better for the planet, but also for selfish reasons, since it’s much better for your health. So if you’re considering switching from a Hummer to a Prius, or switching to energy-efficient light bulbs and appliances, consider also what you’re having for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.”


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