Plant-based diets are becoming highly popular across the world as more people become aware of the impact of diets on the environment and animals. In fact, between 2014 and 2019, interest in veganism increased sevenfold. So, what are the key environmental reasons people are making the switch to plant-based living?
Of course, there are countless benefits to living a plant-based lifestyle, but we have taken some time to pick the top five contenders (from a climate change and environmental standpoint). Here they are:
- Reducing carbon footprint: Going plant-based makes a world of difference on the amount of greenhouse gases being released into our atmosphere. It is clear from numerous studies and data sources (such as this one) on just how small the carbon footprint of plant-based foods, such as fruit, wheat (which we make seitan from) and lentils, is compared to animal products like lamb and beef. For example, for every 1kg of lamb produced, CO2 emissions released equate to 39.2kg – a stunningly high amount in comparison with the tiny 0.9kg of CO2 released from lentil production. And that’s just one example! Beef is even more damaging.
- Preserving habitats and species: As we know, plant-based diets encourage a decline in demand for meat, but they also help save animal lives in other ways. Meat consumption is the largest contributing factor in the destruction of habitats and the extinction of species, especially in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa. So, every time you avoid meat, remember that you’re helping protect habitats across the world and the countless species that depend on them.
- Reducing deforestation linked to soy production: Around 70-75% of the world’s Soy, a protein mainly found in the Amazon and other areas of South America, is fed to livestock due to high meat demand. This practice is causing catastrophic deforestation. So, whenever you choose to go plant-based, you’re helping reduce that demand and protect the planet’s most precious forests. And it doesn’t stop there. The other problem with soybean harvesting for livestock is the transportation. Every year in the UK, millions of tonnes of soybeans are imported into the country for the purposes of feeding livestock. The carbon footprint of this operation is massive and will only get bigger unless we reduce demand.
- Saving lives: You heard us! According to medical researchers, if the world’s population ate a diet richer in plant-based foods and less so in animal products, there could between 10.9 to 11.6 million people saved from untimely deaths caused by illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease. We see this as a win-win! Keeping people healthy and active gives us a much better chance at solving a range of issues, such as climate change and deforestation. Healthy humans = healthy planet!
- Saving Water: Last but not least – let’s address water footprint (often forgotten about). Are you aware that for every pound of lettuce produced that there are 15 gallons of water used? Now, this may seem like a lot, but let’s compare it to the amount of water used to produce a pound of beef: 2500-5000 gallons! (figures vary globally). Seems crazy, we know… we’ll let those figures sink in.
So there you have it: 5 powerful reasons to give plant-based living a go! If we all think about the planet, the wider environment, as well as the animals and people on it while doing our food shopping, there’s no doubt we can have a positive impact.
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