Celebrating Earth Day: Why You Should Eat More Veggies


It’s that time of year when we celebrate Earth Day. Maybe we become more aware of our plastic use, maybe we plant a tree, or maybe we simply become a little bit more aware of what actions we can take to help decrease our environmental footprint. In honor of Earth Day, allow me to speak on one of my very favorite topics – vegetables.

Having been in the health and fitness industry for almost three decades, the number of people who rarely, if ever, eat vegetables, is pretty astounding. And I gotta say, it makes me pretty sad.

Why You Should Eat More Veggies

5 Reasons You Should Eat More Veggies According To Science:

First of all, the scientific evidence behind the benefits of eating more fruits and veggies is robust:

  1. Low-fiber foods (fruits, veggies, whole grains, legumes) intake is correlated with significantly higher all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease, and cancer risk. 1 2
  2. High intake of vegetables and fruits is correlated to lower rates of obesity. 3 4
  3. Fruits and vegetables are full of important vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that support overall health and wellness.5 6
  4. A diet high in fruits and veggies can have beneficial effects on gut health. 7
  5. Colon cancer is on the rise, especially in people under age 55.  A diet high in fiber and with a variety of brightly-colored fruits and vegetables is an important way to help reduce the risk of colon cancer. 8

The Benefits To Our Planet

And, since we’re talking about Earth Day here, let’s not dismiss the benefits to the environment in a more plant-based diet: eating less meat and more plant-based foods has been shown to contribute to significantly fewer greenhouse gas emissions, decreases water and land use needs, and appear to be much more environmentally sustainable in the long-term. 9 10 11

So, What’s Not To Love?

For many people, a lot of things—some do not enjoy the texture or taste of many vegetables, and some have grown up with an aversion to them.  Many people find them to be inconvenient, or are simply not used to eating them. 

In my opinion, it all comes down to experimentation—chances are, you have not tried all the vegetables out there, and chances are, you have not tried them prepared in all the ways they can be prepared, so it’s worth venturing out of your comfort zone and trying something new! 

The Surprising Benefits of Frozen Veggies

If it’s convenience you’re looking for, don’t ignore the option of frozen vegetables!  Not only have they been shown to be just as nutritious as fresh, after 5 days of storage, they’re actually more nutritious than their fresh counterparts! 12 Frozen vegetables are generally cheaper, and are usually already pre-prepped, so all you have to do is dump them out of the bag and get ready to use them in whatever capacity you’re planning! 

I love buying big bags of frozen chopped greens (kale, spinach, turnip greens, whatever I can find), broccoli and cauliflower mix, peppers, and use in anything from soups to frittatas to scrambles to stir-fries.  It’s a very easy way to bulk up a meal for extremely minimal calories.  I also have recently become a big fan of cauliflower rice mixes. So many companies are offering them now, and they’re incredibly easy to season and use as a base for any meal!

Simple Ways To Incorporate More Vegetables Into Your Diet

  • Be Adventurous: When you buy your groceries, make a point of trying a new vegetable each time, or try one you’ve been avoiding.  Do some research on different ways to prepare it, and see if anything resonates.  You might find a new favorite!
  • Sprouts: Another great way to eat veggies is to buy sprouts (or grow your own—you can do it right on your countertop.  Sprouts are incredibly nutritious and versatile, and you can throw them in a sandwich or on a salad, or eat them right out of the box (I love sunflower sprouts and broccoli just to snack on)! 
  • Easy Veggie Snacks: Baby carrots and snap peas are also very low-maintenance, cheap, and easy veggies to snack on any time you need something crunchy to munch on.
  • Whizz Them Up: For those of you who just aren’t fans of the texture or taste of veggies, try experimenting with different cooking methods.  Puree them into sauces (for example this Easy Veggie-Loaded Pasta Sauce), or mix mashed cauliflower or turnips with mashed potatoes. 
  • Fresh Twists: Top tacos with lots of veggie options. You can buy coleslaw mix for a nutritious, easy blend of cabbages, grate some carrots (or buy them pre-grated!), shred some dark-colored lettuces like romaine, butter, or red leaf lettuce, and/or add chopped peppers to the mix. In this same way, you can add veggies to sandwiches and wraps, or you can even sub in collard greens or cabbage leaves for the wrap or bread!
  • Get Creative: Try making stuffed vegetables like peppers, cabbage, or squash.
  • Veggie Alternatives: You can use spaghetti squash as a base for pasta sauce, or make “zoodles” out of zucchini.  Try doing half pasta and half veggies to start, and see how it goes!
  • Crisp Them Up: Try roasting or air-frying your veggies—these techniques tend to bring out the sweetness in many veggies and improve the texture for many of the texture-averse folks out there.

Wrap Up

In short, eat your veggies.  They’re worth the space on your plate, and your body—and the planet—will thank you for it. Happy Earth Day!

  1. WHO. The world health report 2002: reducing risks, promoting healthy life: overview. World Health Organization. 2003. https://apps.who.int/iris/handle/10665/67454 ↩︎
  2. Yao F, Ma J, Cui Y, Huang C, Lu R, Hu F, Zhu X, Qin P. Dietary intake of total vegetable, fruit, cereal, soluble and insoluble fiber and risk of all-cause, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality: systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Front Nutr. 2023 Oct 3;10:1153165. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2023.1153165. PMID: 37854351; PMCID: PMC10579821.
  3. Dreher ML, Ford NA. A Comprehensive Critical Assessment of Increased Fruit and Vegetable Intake on Weight Loss in Women. Nutrients. 2020; 12(7):1919. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12071919
  4.  Nour, Monica & Lutze, Sarah & Grech, Amanda & Allman-Farinelli, Margaret. (2018). The Relationship between Vegetable Intake and Weight Outcomes: A Systematic Review of Cohort Studies. Nutrients. 10. 1626. 10.3390/nu10111626. ↩︎
  5. Monjotin N, Amiot MJ, Fleurentin J, Morel JM, Raynal S. Clinical Evidence of the Benefits of Phytonutrients in Human Healthcare. Nutrients. 2022 Apr 20;14(9):1712. doi: 10.3390/nu14091712. PMID: 35565680; PMCID: PMC9102588. ↩︎
  6. Kan J, Wu F, Wang F, Zheng J, Cheng J, Li Y, Yang Y, Du J. Phytonutrients: Sources, bioavailability, interaction with gut microbiota, and their impacts on human health. Front Nutr. 2022 Aug 16;9:960309. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2022.960309. PMID: 36051901; PMCID: PMC9424995. ↩︎
  7. van der Merwe, M. (2021). Gut microbiome changes induced by a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. International journal of food sciences and nutrition, 72(5), 665-669.
  8.  Lee J, Shin A, Oh JH, Kim J. Colors of vegetables and fruits and the risks of colorectal cancer. World J Gastroenterol. 2017 Apr 14;23(14):2527-2538. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v23.i14.2527. PMID: 28465637; PMCID: PMC5394516. ↩︎
  9. Scarborough, P., Clark, M., Cobiac, L. et al. Vegans, vegetarians, fish-eaters and meat-eaters in the UK show discrepant environmental impacts. Nat Food 4, 565–574 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s43016-023-00795-w ↩︎
  10. Grummon, A.H., Lee, C.J.Y., Robinson, T.N. et al. Simple dietary substitutions can reduce carbon footprints and improve dietary quality across diverse segments of the US population. Nat Food 4, 966–977 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s43016-023-00864-0 ↩︎
  11. Beal, T. Big environmental gains from small dietary tweaks. Nat Food 4, 935–936 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s43016-023-00878-8 ↩︎
  12. Li, L., Pegg, R.B., Eitenmiller, R.R., Chun, J., & Kerrihard, A.L. (2017). Selected nutrient analyses of fresh, fresh-stored, and frozen fruits and vegetables. Journal of Food Composition and Analysis, 59, 8-17. ↩︎

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