What are the facts?
It is always helpful to have some food for thought to help inspire and drive the changes we can make. Here are a few facts to consider:
- At the current rate of population growth, if we don’t change the way we eat the planet will not be able to sustain us all.
- Greenhouse gases (GHG) are responsible for trapping heat in the atmosphere. These gases include CO2, methane, nitrous oxide and many fluorinated gases. We need to think about the combined effect of all these greenhouse gases.
- GHG refers to the ‘CO2 equivalent’ or ‘CO2e’ which includes methane, much of which is produced by livestock.
- Plant-based diets have benefits for our health and the planet. There are significant health benefits in diets richer in plant-based foods.
- Agriculture is a huge contributor of CO2e. However, that contribution can reduced by re-balancing the land for plant based diets.
- A plant-based diet is the single biggest change individuals can make to lower their overall carbon footprint.
- Switching to more plant-based foods conserves water and opens up more land for crops. Improved use of natural resources helps us feed more people.
What can a business do?
Businesses have a role to play in ensuring that more sustainable food choices are made available to the market
- Ensure the supply chain is understood and suppliers are transparent in the origin of food components and ingredients
- Don’t take short cuts or engage in greenwashing
- Be open and transparent with your customers on the sustainability profile of your product. Ensure the overall context is understood
- Communicate areas where work us under way even if not complete. The road to sustainability takes time and product value needs to be preserved and even enhanced
- Focus on sustainability packaging (into and out of your operation) and put it in the context of product preservation and overall sustainability profile
- Source locally where possible. Compare local sourcing where excessive non renewable energy is used to create artificial conditions to sourced which have a more natural climate. The total amount of carbon used, even when adding in food miles, is often less
- Incorporate plant-based into all products and build appeal to the mainstream consumer. Quality, taste and mouthfeel are critical for success
What can an individual do?
It’s clear that the most profound way each of us can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, conserve natural resources like water and land, and
stop contributing to the mis-allocation of food, is by simply changing what is on our plates. Reducing our meat intake has a tremendous impact on the environment. Reducing our use of animal products such as dairy and eggs reduces this still further.
- Change your mindset – think cuisine – Italian, Indian, Chinese or Mexican instead of chicken, fish, beef, etc.
- Don’t make changes too rapidly. Start slowly by making small changes in your day to day diet.
- Start by doing something like Meatless Mondays, or switch a specific product like cow’s milk to a vegan alternative.
- Aim to make one of your three meals a day plant-based.
- Eat more vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes and beans.
- Whole foods have the greatest benefit. Even small changes have a massive impact. Eat the rainbow.
- Seek out and learn new recipes and get more comfortable with cooking with plant based ingredients.
- Sign up for Challenge 22 or Veganuary to try a plant-based diet for 22 days.