Globally, there is a strong consensus that we need to eat more plant-based foods, and less meat, dairy and fish. Luckily, plant-based foods can be super tasty, cheap, easy to prepare and varied.
Why should we eat more plants?
Eating a plant-based diet ensures we get plenty of vitamins, minerals and fibre. Plant-based foods are also lower fat than most animal products. Lots of studies have proven than meat and dairy heavy diets are more likely to lead to health issues, including weight gain and poor mental health. Incorporating lots of plants into your diet will likely lead to a healthier and happier you!
Meat and Dairy
How is meat and dairy harming the planet?
Livestock is a significant producer of greenhouse gases. Cows, sheep and goats are the biggest contributors, as they burp methane – a gas with an even stronger ability to cause global warming than carbon dioxide.
Livestock uses lots more land than plants per calorie output. To keep up with demand, trees are deforested, natural habitats are destroyed and soil is degraded.
Raising livestock is energy inefficient, requiring lots of external inputs. For cattle, only 1% of the energy in feed is converted to edible meat. When we raise livestock, energy from the feed is lost along the food chain to processes like the animal's movement, respiration and excretion. If human's eat the plants instead, we get a lot more food from fewer inputs!
Frequently Asked Questions
Is locally sourced meat ok?
Sourcing food locally is good for the environment and supports local businesses. However, the emissions produced from transporting food is tiny compared to the gases emitted on the farm. Focusing on what you eat has a much bigger impact than where it’s from.
What about hilly areas where we can't grow crops?
There are environments where rough or exposed terrain does not enable crop farming. Well managed grazing can support soil health, but not nearly enough to outweigh the greenhouse gas emissions of livestock.
But what about protien?
It is a myth that there is a risk of being protein deficient with a low-meat diet. Whilst plants have less protein per gram than meat, a varied diet will provide more than enough. Irrespective of diet, most people in the UK eat enough protein.
Do we all need to be 100% vegan?
We do not all need to be 100% vegan to have a healthy body and planet. But we do need to eat A LOT less meat, fish and dairy. The guidance is about 300kcal of meat, fish or dairy per day.
How does dairy compare?
Since dairy comes from the most significant polluters (cows and sheep), the environmental impact of dairy is actually higher than that of pork, poultry and fish. Plant based dairy alternatives are better for the environment and are fortified to be nutritionally similar.
But isn't soy bad for the environment?
It’s true that an increased demand for soy is driving deforestation, but the demand is for livestock feed, not direct consumption. Compared to dairy milk, soy uses less land and water and produces fewer greenhouse gases. 95% of Brazilian soy is used to feed livestock.
What if my family doesn't like it?
Start with familiar recipes, but swap the meat for plant-based protein – like beans, pulses, tofu or meat alternatives. Don’t be afraid to add plenty of seasoning, and favour cooking methods like roasting and pan-frying to add texture and depth of flavour.
Will it cost me more?