Is a plant-based diet sustainable?


Jess Turner

The United Nations has stated that to avoid the worst effects of climate change, the world needs to shift to a plant-based diet. In fact, removing animal products from our diet is the single biggest way we, as individuals, can lessen our impact on the planet.

Calorie for calorie, it takes 2-5 times more grain to get sustenance from meat, than if we ate the plants we fed to animals ourselves. (Concerned that the plants we feed animals don’t all make human-grade food, or that there isn’t enough arable land? In a world where we get our calories from plant-based foods, this decrease in grains we would need to grow would more than compensate for this – and even enable us to re-wild areas, decrease rainforest destruction, and recover from habitat loss.)

So, eating meat is inefficient, and causes a huge amount of land and food waste. A plant-based diet also makes more sense when we think about water consumption. For example, it takes 628 liters of water to produce one liter of cow’s milk, compared to just 28 liters of water to produce one liter of soy milk. 

These figures also show that deforestation, pollution directly related to food production, and other processes harmful to the planet are highest for animal products. These emissions are also those which are most damaging to the climate when compared to the other emissions involved in getting food on our tables – even in comparison to food miles.

healthy vegetables

What about food miles?

Food miles are an issue, but in fact we can have a much much bigger impact by changing what we eat rather than where it comes from – choosing plant-based foods over animal foods.

Transport usually accounts for only a small fraction of a food’s greenhouse gas emissions – much less than the emissions from processes and methane emissions on the farm, and deforestation to graze animals. Whether you buy it from the farmer next door or from far away, it is not the distance traveled that makes the carbon footprint of a steak large, but the fact that it is a steak.

Animal-based foods usually have a much higher carbon footprint than plant-based foods. So switching to plant-based foods will have a much bigger positive impact on your carbon footprint than eating local animal products, even if these plant-based foods are transported much further. Some food for thought for your next trip to the supermarket?

A shift to eating vegan could reverse climate change

A new study from Stanford University confirms that we could reverse climate change in just 30 years – incredible! How? By stopping animal agriculture and enjoying plant-based food instead.

Choosing a plant-based diet reduces your environmental footprint like no other personal change can. What are you waiting for?  

We have the power to make a tremendously positive impact by choosing vegan. The movement starts with you – Join us!

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