More people are eating healthy food these days, and not just when they cook meals at home. Americans spend about half of their food budget on dining out. And they're not just concerned about their own health: Studies show millennials want food that is healthy for the environment, fair to workers and humane to animals, too. That's why this Food Day, Oct 24, a coalition of environmental, food, health, and workers' rights groups are asking the world's largest restaurant corporation to make sure more of the meals they serve are truly sustainable for people and the planet.
But what does an Earth-friendly, sustainable diet truly look like? Certainly, it must be climate- and wildlife-friendly, and that means eating less meat overall. Animal agriculture-factory farms in particular-take up a tremendous amount of land and put millions of wild animals at risk every year. In fact, on public lands alone, more than 175 endangered and threatened species are at risk from livestock producers. By eating less meat, we can ease the pressure on wildlife by creating less of a demand.
The bad news is that many restaurant companies – like Darden, which serves 320 million meals a year at its chains including Olive Garden and Longhorn Steakhouse -- have menus full of unsustainable food, including factory-farmed meat and dairy that pollute the environment and are produced with routine antibiotics and other harmful chemicals. They also pay workers a dismal wage and provide limited opportunities or benefits for their employees.
Our coalition launched a petition asking Darden to make its restaurant menu offerings more healthy, green, humane and fair, including paying its workers a living wage. With more than 1,500 restaurants and 150,000 employees, Darden's purchasing, menu and wage decisions have a huge impact on the market and our planet.
Oversized portions of meat and dairy are linked with severe health problems ranging from heart disease to asthma, and they take an enormous amount of antibiotics, pesticides, water, land and energy to produce. Smaller portions can help trim our waistlines and our environmental footprints. More veggie and organic options that are sustainably, humanely and fairly produced are fundamental to an Earth-friendly diet.
Our personal food choices are important. Even if you don't eat at Darden Restaurants, their purchasing decisions impact the food system that affects all of us. Please sign this petition asking Darden to serve food that's good for workers, health, animals and the planet.