Eating plant-based meals is the easiest way to reduce your carbon footprint. You don’t need to be an all day, every day vegan, or shop only at the farmers’ market, but by swapping a meat-filled meal for a vegan one once a day, you can lend our environment a much needed hand.

The wonderful thing about food is you get three votes a day: every one of them has the power to change the world.” — Michael Pollan

Animal agriculture is an intense burden on the land and the planet. The USDA estimates that factory farms in the US produce over 300 million tons of waste every year. The FAO reports that livestock production contributes to 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions. To understand how increased plant-based food consumption can help the planet, scientists at the University of Minnesota conducted a 5-year-long study to reach a fact-based answer.

Published in Nature, their paper shows that what’s good for you is good for the planet too: “Alternative diets that offer substantial health benefits that could, if widely adopted, reduce global agricultural greenhouse gas emissions, reduce land clearing and resultant species extinctions, and help prevent such diet-related chronic non-communicable diseases.” In short, reducing our consumption of meat, fat, and sugar can transform the food production industry, slowing climate change. Swap in a plant-based meal to cut your carbon footprint, use less of the world’s water supplies, enable more crops to reach the people who most need them, and improve your own health.

Nil Zacharias, the co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of One Green Planet explains,“The real war against climate is being fought on our plates, multiple times a day with every food choice we make.” And with all the plant-based ingredients, recipes, and restaurants around today it’s not as hard as it once was to make this change.

Both Dr. David Tilman at the University of Minnesota, and journalist and activist Michael Pollan believe that education is key to saving the planet. By teaching people how to cook, explaining the impact of every food-related decision, and demonstrating the link between what’s on our plate and what’s in our atmosphere, we can help slow climate change. Plant-based, seasonal eating isn’t just a trendy health movement — it’s a planet-saving, health-improving lifestyle.

Love your body, love the planet, and eat with ease of mind.