Being vegan has never been trendier. But with more and more of the population opting for a plant-based diet, is there more to the lifestyle choice than animal welfare?Climate Emergency
There are numerous studies showing that animal agriculture is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation. Beef is the worst culprit, requiring 28 times more land and 11 times more water to produce than the calorie-equivalent amount of pork or chicken.
The enormous amount of water needed to produce meat is also a huge drain on natural resources. Over 15,000 litres of water are needed to make just ONE KILO of beef. Yes, you read that right (click here for sources).
Compare that with less than 900 litres of water for one kilo of corn, and you can see the problem. The simple science is; it's more efficient to grow crops to eat than to grow crops to feed the animals that we eat - cutting out the middle man.
The Cowspiracy (2014) is a documentary available to watch on Netflix which delves into the world of meat production, uncovering myths and helping to educate people on the effects of rearing livestock.
Why not visit Genesis, a vegan restaurant in Shoreditch. Get 2 for 1 on mains with the Stevie App, Monday to Friday, 11:30 to 17:30. __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Saskia Hadley, Vegan Foodie, Stevie Ambassador and Head of Marketing at Green Meats Co, says: ‘I initially went vegan for my health after my Nan got sick with cancer. I did my research and saw the benefits of cutting out animal products, so started to make the change. Once I did that my whole perception started to shift and my reason became more focused on animals and our planet. I feel very blessed to be alive so treading lightly and with compassion is integral to that. You are what you eat so death, toxicity and pain ain't on the menu.’
Another Netflix documentary, Game Changers (2019), focuses on the strength and health benefits of eating a plant-based diet. ‘James Wilks travels the world on a quest for the truth about meat, protein, and strength.’ Featuring elite Olympic athletes, heavyweight boxers, strongmen, special ops soldiers and even Arnold Schwarzenegger, it is an eye-opening watch.
There are three focus-points, backed up with huge amounts of scientific data:
- Plants contain all the nutrients, including protein, needed to live an active and healthy lifestyle - and are therefore the optimal fuel source for humans.
- Athletes with plant-based diets can push harder, last longer, heal quicker, and train again sooner. High-quality nutrition supports non-athletes too, increasing energy, sharpening focus, and boosting productivity.
- Changing to a plant-based diet can help reduce risks of many life-threatening diseases (such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes).
Tuck in to some Good Belly (Plant Based) Pizza!
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Meg Reynolds, a climate activist who follows a vegan diet, says: When I decided to start eating vegan, I had already been veggie for years. Honestly, looking at the amount of cheese and chocolate I ate, I thought it was going to be a real challenge. It's been over 2 years now and it's become so much a part of my nature that's it's no longer a feeling of 'oh god, I can't eat that' - my thought process now runs along the lines of ' I'm choosing to eat differently because I know I can make a difference'.
Of course when I first made the change I had a few slip ups; deciding to stop eating things that I had loved my whole life was not a minor transition, but the thing that helped me most was to keep reminding myself why I was doing it. My priority is and has always been the health of my planet, the people and the animals who inhabit it. I found that doing other forms of activism such as attending protests, signing and sharing petitions and urging local MPs to think about issues I cared about, really helped me include veganism as part of my whole lifestyle, as opposed to it just feeling like a 'diet'. Because in reality, it is so much more than that.
Whether it's going fully vegan, boycotting fast fashion, increasing awareness of issues, eating vegetarian on a Tuesday, cutting down on beef, only eating local produce - the list of things you can do is endless. No matter how big or small the change is, doing something yourself not only increases the overall impact we as individuals can have, but also improves our own mindset and self-belief in a world that's starting to feel more and more chaotic and out of our control.
And naturally, thinking about our food and where it comes from is a very good place to start.
As a meat-eater and lover of cheese, I’m not suggesting to everyone that you must become vegan immediately. However, it’s clear that there are huge benefits, both for your own personal wellbeing and for the wellbeing of the planet. Reducing the amount of beef you eat, eating plant-based substitutes for just one meal a day or doing vegan weeks can all have huge impacts, and are easy enough to implement.
Good luck and happy World Vegan Day!!!