Eat More Plants, Save the World

Driving an electric vehicle, carrying a reusable water bottle, and switching to more energy efficient light bulbs are some of the most common to-dos when it comes reducing our individual carbon footprints. Even plastic straws are increasingly reaching villain status in mainstream consciousness. But you want to do more, right? Consider this: One of the most effective ways any nature-loving, animal-adoring, eco-conscious friend of Planet Earth can slash his or her impact on the environment is to adopt a plant-based diet.

We eat many times in a single day, and it turns out the choices we make in these mealtime moments hold a lot of power when it comes to fighting climate change. A comprehensive new study by the University of Oxford and published in the journal Science essentiallydropped the mic on the subject in June 2018. Over the course of five years, scientists sought to analyze the detrimental effects farming can have on the environment and included data on nearly 40,000 farms in 119 countries. They examined a total of 40 agricultural products in the study, which cover 90% of all food that is eaten. Their findings unequivocally prove how devastating animal agriculture is to our planet.

The study showed that cutting meat and dairy out completely can reduce an individual’s carbon footprint from food by up to 73%. And that kind of action has a ripple effect; if everyone stopped eating meat and dairy, it would reduce global farmland use by up to 75%, which would not only drastically diminish atmospheric greenhouse gases (agriculture is second only to electricity and heat production as a global greenhouse gas emitter), but would also free up more wild lands – the loss of which is a primary cause of mass species extinction. Indeed, Nature released a 2014 study finding that emissions from the production of beef and lamb are 250 times higher than those of legumes, and pork and poultry are 40 times higher than legumes. Natural Resources Defense Council reported, in “To Shrink Your Carbon Footprint, Ease Up on the Dairy,”

that 14 kilo-calories of fossil fuels to produce a single kcal of dairy milk, whereas just 1 kcal of fossil fuels can produce 3.2 kcal of soybeans (for use in soymilk). That measurement takes into account the fertilizers, pesticides, and other industrial inputs used in dairy production.

Unfortunately, the massive amounts of land needed to raise livestock for meat and dairy consumption and the resulting greenhouse gases are just the tip of the bull’s horn when it comes to animal agriculture’s impact on the planet. Animal agriculture is an inefficient way to produce a single meal, such as the quarter-pound of conventional beef in a typical cheeseburger, because it requires so many resources. Business Insider broke it down, and it’s staggering. Among many things, there’s the water – estimated at more than 460 gallons – and the corn-based feed, which totals 13.5 pounds per quarter-pound hamburger. Grass-fed beef requires even more resources. Beef and dairy production also release plenty of methane but also nitrous oxide, which are dangerous greenhouse gases that trap 20 and 250 times more heat than carbon dioxide, respectively.

So, while you may pay a buck or two for that cheeseburger at a fast food restaurant, the cost to Mother Nature and mankind is far greater. Deforestation (80% of all Amazon deforestation is due to beef production), ocean acidification, sea level rise, erosion, famine, extreme weather, widespread disease, fresh water scarcity, and the loss of biodiversity are all major fallouts from the greenhouse gases produced by the animal agriculture industry. These things hit poor and vulnerable communities hardest, so there’s a moral imperative to cutting meat and dairy from our diets, as well.

In Summer 2018, global carbon dioxide levels rose to the highest they’ve been in at least 800,000 years. The landmark Paris Agreement aims to keep global temperatures from rising 2 degrees Celsius. A Bloomberg report from June 2018 states, “Given current efforts, the world is probably heading for temperature gains of 4 degrees or more, according to climate negotiator Tovivo, citing figures from Climate Action Tracker.” While political will and policy shifts may lag, we as individuals can take the reins by cutting meat and dairy from our diets.

It’s a great time to try out this whole vegan thing. There are scores of amazing companies (like Follow Your Heart!) creating ever more tasty and nutritious dairy and meat alternatives. CNN columnist John D. Sutter wrote in his powerful essay “Why Beef Is the New SUV,” “Our diets are a rare chance for us to take control of our climate footprints, as researchers explained to me. We don’t need governments or utilities to help. Apathy is all that stands in the way.” If you’ve read this far, the motivation is clearly there to get you started on the journey towards a greener (pun intended) diet. It’s time to take action.

The best thing is, you don’t have to kick all of your favorite foods to the curb at once. Subtle tweaks will help you achieve any lifestyle overhaul – and the planet will thank you for it. Just don’t beat yourself up if you encounter setbacks or succumb to temptations along the way. This kind of thing takes practice, which is ultimately how you’ll discover what works best for you. Try swapping one foodstuff for another. You want vegan ice cream? You got it. Vegan beef or chicken? Plenty of options await your tastebuds. Vegan cheese and eggs? You’ve come to the right place!

Here are our best-sellers to help you get started on your journey towards a more plant-based diet!

Follow Your Heart Original Vegenaise

Follow Your Heart Organic Garlic Aïoli Vegenaise

Follow Your Heart Vegan Shreds Pizzeria Blend

Follow Your Heart Dairy-Free Parmesan – Shredded

Follow Your Heart Organic Vegan Caesar Dressing

Follow Your Heart Dairy-Free Yogurt Vanilla

Follow Your Heart Dairy-Free Sour Cream

Zero Waste Certified

Follow Your Heart is proud to announce that Earth Island, our very own manufacturing facility and office building, is now Zero Waste Certified at the Gold Level! We’ve been working hard with Green Business Certification Incorporated to achieve this milestone.

In addition to diverting over 97% of our waste from landfills, we are now the first plant-based food manufacturing facility in the U.S. to achieve this certification. To celebrate, we hosted a small reception and tour at Earth Island this past Tuesday, June 20, 2017. Attendees included Stephanie Barger of U.S. Green Building Council, Kevin Taylor from Los Angeles’ Mayor Garcetti’s office, members of Food Forward, and a few of our favorite social media friends. The ever-lovely Spork Foods catered the small reception after opening remarks, awards, and a small walking tour of our facility.

A huge thank you to our employees, who made this possible with their concerted efforts to diverting waste and improving our processes, as well as Stephanie Barger and US Green Building Council, Molly Lavik and Sustainable Business Council of Los Angeles, and you, our customers, who support our vision every step of the way.

Sustainable Business Council Awards 2017

Wednesday April 19th, 2017 was a big night for us. The Sustainable Business Council (SBC) of Los Angeles held their Sixth Annual SBC Awards at New Roads School. The night saw awards go to fellow green industry leaders like Van Jones, Prana Clothing, LAcarGuy Mike Sullivan, Homeboy Recycling, and more.

Follow Your Heart Market & Cafe took home the People’s Choice Awards for Restaurants while our Founder & CEO, Bob Goldberg, was honored with the Pioneer in Sustainability Award! We couldn’t be any prouder.

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Every Day is Earth Day (or should be)

Every year on April 22nd, the United States, along with more than 190 other countries, celebrates Earth Day. Most of have heard of this day, but do we really know what it means? Earth Day’s origins go back to an UNESCO conference in San Francisco where it was suggested that we should honor the earth and the concept of peace in tandem with the first day of Spring. The first Earth Day was held on March 21st, 1970. Just one month later, on April 22nd, United States Senator Gaylord Nelson, of Wisconsin, founded the first government-recognized Earth Day, that was intended to focus on environmental education in schools. It stuck.

 

When I think of Earth Day, Climate Change and Global Warming usually come to mind. These are two complex and nuanced concepts that can be overwhelming. I constantly find myself questioning my actions, in an effort to minimize my personal impact. Do you find yourself doing that too? I have some good news, though. If you, like me, follow your heart by living a plant-based diet, free from animal products, then you have already a huge step towards fighting climate change! As it turns out, livestock (animals raised for food) are some of the largest contributors of greenhouse gases, like methane. Good work!

 

If you, like me, are still striving to do more, but don’t know where to start, find an Earth Day rally or event to attend. In similar style to the Women’s March on Washington, the Earth Day Network will be holding a March for Science. Or, if you happen to live in LA, come check out my zero waste booth at the Glassell Park Neighborhood Association’s Earth Day event (details coming soon).

 

Attending events can be a great source of motivation, but true change comes when you take action. Start small by walking short distances that you would normally drive. Cook more meals at home, which helps you stay more connected to where your food comes from and what is actually in it. Small steps, have big impacts, but they must be continual and consistent. And always remember, Earth Day is every day.

– Jonathan Levy, AKA Zero Waste Guy

A Zero Waste Take on Spring Cleaning

With Spring right around the corner, I can’t help but start to think about Spring Cleaning. There are a handful of potential origins of this centuries­old tradition, including Persian New Year and the Jewish high holiday of Passover. Whether or not an exact source can be pinpointed,one thing they all have in common is this sense of purging all that you no longer need in anticipation of the start of something new.

When I think of Spring Cleaning, the first thing that comes to mind is the end of Winter; this idea that after being cooped up inside for the past few months, I can finally turn off the heater, open a few windows, and let in some fresh air. As I leave my blinds drawn, I see flowers starting to bloom and leaves growing on trees. The sound of birds chirping and the smell of fresh air is refreshing and a welcomed change.

While cleaning out my closet and drawers, I think about the things I currently own, taking a deep look into what I want, compared to what I actually need. My goal is to avoid creating unnecessary waste, so any item I no longer need is given to a friend, donated to charity, or sold. I want to be mindful that some items are nice to have around, just in case, whereas others spend years collecting dust.

It can be easy to look at Spring Cleaning as a means to an end, where tossing out old items is justification for buying newer models. As an advocate for living a zero waste lifestyle, I have found that there is far more satisfaction in wearing something out, than feeling pressure to buy something new. If you can believe it, there are actually groups on social media you can join that advocate for seeing how long you can go without buying anything (except of course, food). I personally do my best to buy only what I need, reusing and repairing items for as long as possible.

But I do recognize that there is a balance, and sometimes we do need to make way for something new. That being said, as you begin to prepare for the start of Spring, I would like to challenge you to introduce a zero waste way of thinking, as made popular during the Great Depression: Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.

– Jonathan Levy, AKA Zero Waste Guy

A Solar-Powered Flashback

When Earth Island out grew our old facility in 2003, we made sure that the new facility would not only produce our great products, but also do something great for the environment.  We partnered with PermaCity, a local solar company, to help us achieve this dream.  Check out this flashback video of our President and CEO, Bob Goldberg, talking about our NEW (in 2003) building and our pride in “doing business without doing harm.”

 

Earth Island-Bob Goldberg from PermaCity Solar on Vimeo.

 

A New Year’s message from the CEO of Permacity:

“As we move into 2013 and to PermaCity’s 10-year anniversary, the price of solar energy is nearing grid parity. It is hard to imagine that just a short time ago solar required an 85 percent subsidy to be implemented. At that time PermaCity built the first and largest free standing Photo Voltaic (PV) system in Los Angeles. Earth Island Natural Foods’ 120 kW DC system is still working great today, and the inverter has never failed. We are proud to call Earth Island’s owners our good friends. Both PermaCity and Earth Island have grown, yet still retain a staff of motivated workers, a dedicated vision, and pride in our products. The solar industry has grown very fast and there have been many wins for the environment. Every solar project helps protect our threatened environment because a solar powered building has a smaller carbon footprint. It takes only 18 months of carbon in solar projects to generate 30-50 years of clean power. I predict that the Southwest U.S. will run on 60 percent solar, in the next 40 years. When the rest of the planet follows our lead, the environmental, economic, and urban design results will drive a heightened human intelligence. This is motivating and exciting!”

-Jonathan Port, CEO