Is going plant-based the best thing we can do for the environment?
It’s Earth Day today! Here at PRESS we are doing our very best to minimise our negative effects on the environment. Our eco-bottles are the most environmentally friendly plastic on the market and our products are all plant based. Some of you reading this may know that going plant-based is good for your health and for the environment but have never looked into the facts properly. Some of you may have been persuaded to change your diet a while back and have forgotten exactly why. It’s always good to freshen up on the facts, so here’s a reminder.
First off, What’s the problem?
From an environmental perspective, the word that can normally be found after the word climate now is crisis. The last time greenhouse gases were as high as they are now, trees were growing on the South Pole – over 2.6 million years ago. But how does animal farming affect greenhouse gases?
There is more to it than the CO2 that animals create through respiration, or the methane they create by excretion. Simply growing an animal to adult size before slaughtering it takes an absolutely huge amount of energy, to the extent that if you combine the climate change emissions taken to farm animals, it is more than all forms of transport put together!
In addition to these gaseous excretions, a huge amount of energy is used to feed and water these animals. For example, while a pound of potatoes needs 300 litres of water to be able to grow, 1kg of beef needs 15,415 litres. Getting that water to animals on such a vast scale uses a huge amount of energy, as almost a third of the world’s freshwater usage goes into the production of animal products.
As well as using a huge amount of water, livestock farming uses a disproportionate amount of land. Livestock farming uses more than 80% of farmland, yet provides less than 20% of our calories. Whilst not all land is suitable for crops, a considerable amount could be repurposed to grow plant-based food, or to undo the deforestation that has been caused by meat production. More than half of the Amazon basin’s deforestation can be directly attributed to cattle farming.
Am I too small to make a change?
In the face of deforestation, rising sea levels and greenhouse gases at record levels – what can one person do, really?
Well, the good news is, you won’t be doing it on your own. Trends show that people are becoming more conscious of these things, and are cutting down on products that are harmful to the environment, which has never been easier. Plant-based versions of almost every imaginable product are now available, focussing on all the things that you might worry about losing with meat. Taste, texture, protein, you name it – plant-based food manufacturers want to keep all bases covered. If every family in the UK swapped in a plant-based meal to replace a meat-based one, the reported environmental impact would be like taking 16 million cars off the road. And for every 100 grams of beef you cut out of your diet, that’s at least 5kg of CO2 that won’t be released into the atmosphere. Give yourself some credit – that’s not nothing!
Change is scary!
Going plant-based is the best thing you can do to help the environmental crisis. For some of you, that might just seem a bit daunting. If so, remember, you don’t have to do everything all at once – saving the planet doesn’t mean having to go all or nothing. Remember:
1) You don’t have to commit to something forever! All you have to think about is your next meal. Could you make it more environmentally friendly?
2) Not all meats are equal! Beef is by far the worst meat for the environment, followed by lamb and pork. So, if you’re missing meat too much, it’s much better to have sustainable fish, or to eat chicken.
3) We must support each other! If you have a friend who has cut meat out of a few meals a week, then well done to them! Encourage them and let them know they are making a difference, even if you eat much less meat or have gone completely plant-based.
https://www.wired.co.uk/article/vegan-diet-environmental-carbon-impact https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2010/jul/18/vegetarianism-save-planet-environment https://science.sciencemag.org/content/360/6392/987 https://www.bbc.co.uk/food/articles/vegan_vs_flexitarian https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/apr/03/south-pole-tree-fossils-indicate-impact-of-climate-change