A vegan diet can reduce environmental impact

| 27th July 2017
The reasons for choosing a vegan diet are becoming increasingly clear.
The Vegan Society today launches its Plate up for the Planet to encourage people to abandon meat and dairy products, for their health, and for the health of the environment, reports LAURA BRIGGS.
Going vegan can reduce your food-related carbon impact by half.

The Vegan Society’s biggest campaign to encourage more people to eat a plant-based diet is launched today. Half a million people in the UK are already following a vegan lifestyle, According to figures from the charity. 

This is “a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.”

The campaign Plate up for the Planet, is focusing on a planet-saving challenge to encourage participants to go vegan for seven days.

By signing up to the challenge would-be vegans are sent recipe ideas and will receive information on the greenhouse gas savings being made, compared to that of an omnivorous diet.

A fast moving trend for moving towards a vegan diet

Vegans exclude all animal products from both their diet and their fashion choices, so leather and fur are off-limits, as is eating eggs, honey, cheese and other dairy products.

There is a fast moving trend for moving towards a vegan diet and the Society is hoping its campaign will convert many more to this way of life. In the last decade the number of vegans has risen by 260 percent and continues to rise steadily.

Going vegan is believed to reduce an individual’s food-related carbon impact by up to 50 per cent.

The meat and dairy industry produces methane, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide – all gases that contribute heavily to climate change and there is also the strong argument for veganism which draws on the fact that to keep animals for food the industry drains precious resources such as water, and uses feed that could otherwise be fed to humans. For every 100 calories fed to animals, only 12 calories are given back by consuming flesh and milk.

Becoming a vegan is a lifestyle choice, and is by no means an easy one. Sometimes vegans have to decide between the lesser of two evils – for example egg-based vaccinations, or medical treatments which contain animal derivatives.

A vegan by its definition has to try to the best of their ability to follow an ethical way of life, where is “practicable”. It is not, of course always practicable to do so, especially where medical intervention may be necessary for human health.

Spokesperson for the Vegan Society Dominika Piasecka said: "We know that dropping meat, eggs and dairy from your diet can have a huge environmental benefit.

Removing one item at a time

But we also know that many people who consider themselves environmentally aware or even activists haven’t made the link between the campaigns they are passionate about and their diet.

"How many of your readers know that a vegan diet can cut your food-related carbon emissions by up to 50 percent? That’s where 'Plate up for the Planet' comes in.”

For a vegetarian the step towards becoming a vegan is not such a big one – but for meat eaters the challenge is far harder. The Vegan Society advocates taking small steps to begin with and to go slow.

Removing one item at a time from your diet is easier than cutting out all meat and dairy in one go. It could be that you just start changing one meal a day to begin with.

If you’re inspired to start a journey towards a vegan way of life, you can sign up to the Plate up for the Planet initiative on The Vegan Society’s website and register your email address to receive daily recipes and advice.

This Author

Laura Briggs is a regular contributor to the Ecologist. Follow here here: @WordsbyBriggs.


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