As Earth Day approaches on April 22nd, I feel apprehensive. Partially because the annual event causes me to further evaluate global warming and the effects I've personally had on it, as well as the ways I can improve ecologically (which is a little anxiety-inducing). However, there's something in particular about Earth Day that makes me furious year after year.

Though the posts and messages people create are well-intentioned, many decide to use this single day once a year to preach about plastic straws and turtles, post a picture of a mountain, and maybe shed a photographed tear for the landfills crowding our world. I first look at these actions with pride and hope, yet find myself later outraged when these very people fail to practice what they so passionately preached. Maybe on Earth Day they skip a plastic cup, or recycle, or don't eat a steak. Ok, cool, but the next day they're back to their hypocritical and damaging habits. Or, even worse, they never took any action at all.

While this does make me deeply irate, I do understand that some people may be simply misinformed or unsure where to start. Simply, the biggest place we can make environmental change is on our plates. Altering the way you eat to help the Earth doesn't have to be a burden, taxing, or overly difficult in any way, but it can be delicious, healthy, and rewarding.

Here are 5 food-related changes we can implement this Earth Day to practice what we preach, settle our environmental anxiety, and, most importantly, save the world...right?

1. Go Vegan... Or At Least Try

Rice Paper Sushi Rolls | HD photo by Ella Olsson (@ellaolsson) on Unsplash

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Yup, sorry. As much as one may deny this, it is a fact that going vegan is one of the biggest (if not the biggest) things you can do to be more sustainable and reduce your negative environmental impact. Yes, I'm vegan—however, I'm not asking you to completely revamp your diet right off the bat. I think people have an all or nothing mentality when it comes to sustainability, but any progress is progress.

Maybe go vegan once a week, cook one plant-based meal a day, one meal a month, anything! Plus, there are amazing vegan recipes and restaurants out there now. I know it may seem daunting, but in our current world, there's no excuse not to give it a shot, at least once in a while.

2. Revamp Your Utensils

This photo was created with: AMOUS™ ... | HD photo by Jarek Ceborski (@jarson) on Unsplash

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Something that frequently goes hand in hand with the food we eat is the utensils we use. When we order for pick-up, grab something at a café, or whatever else, we frequently eat our food, our drink, and our coffee with items containing plastic and environmentally harmful ingredients. Instead, carrying a small pouch of bamboo utensils, a reusable straw, a water bottle to avoid plastic bottles, and a coffee cup (if that's your thing) will make a big difference at the end of the day. 

3. Support The Healthy Food Market

Fresh Fruit at the Market in Summer | HD photo by Jakub Kapusnak (@foodiesfeed) on Unsplash

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Obviously, produce and generally healthy food is much better for the environment: less packaging, less harmful ingredients, more sustainably sourced, animal-free products. However, industrial agriculture is polluting the air, eroding our soil, and relying on synthetic pesticides—no thank you. To help the Earth in this way, we must purchase more healthy and natural foods. In turn, this will elicit greater production of said food, thus creating less space for environmentally harmful products. Supply and demand, man.

4. Stop Supporting Big Food

Food Aisle on Supermarket | HD photo by Fikri Rasyid (@fikrirasyid) on Unsplash

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Big food is one of the reasons food has had such a negative affect on the environment. The distrust for larger industrial food producers is growing, as these companies infrequently produce their products ethically. Greenhouse gases are emitted, ingredients are not sourced in an environmentally friendly way, and we support this process. Luckily, we can change this by not buying from big brands like Nestle or Tyson. Rather, we can support small, ethical brands and in turn make a positive change.

5. Educate Others On The Topic

If you feel the desire to write a boo... | HD photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters (@glenncarstenspeters) on Unsplash

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I've said it before and I'll say it again—nothing meaningful gets done without the widespread inspiration and education of others. It would be incredible for you to incorporate any of these steps into your life (other than just on Earth Day), but leading by example and informing your family or friends on this major issue and the ways we can solve it will only multiply your impact.

This isn't an issue to be pushed to the back burner, to focus on for a single day, or to pretend you're committed to solving. Global warming is real, it's here, and you and I have 11 years to do everything in our power to stop it. This Earth Day, put something worthwhile into action. Nix the fear and the excuses—we're in this together.