Vegan diet massively cuts environmental damage, study shows

Detailed analysis finds plant diets lead to 75% less climate-heating emissions, water pollution and land use than meat-rich ones

Damian Carrington, The GuardianJuly 20, 2023

Eating a vegan diet massively reduces the damage to the environment caused by food production, the most comprehensive analysis to date has concluded.

The research showed that vegan diets resulted in 75% less climate-heating emissions, water pollution and land use than diets in which more than 100g of meat a day was eaten. Vegan diets also cut the destruction of wildlife by 66% and water use by 54%, the study found.

The heavy impact of meat and dairy on the planet is well known, and people in rich nations will have to slash their meat consumption in order to end the climate crisis. But previous studies have used model diets and average values for the impact of each food type.

In contrast, the new study analysed the real diets of 55,000 people in the UK. It also used data from 38,000 farms in 119 countries to account for differences in the impact of particular foods that are produced in different ways and places. This significantly strengthens confidence in the conclusions.

However, it turned out that what was eaten was far more important in terms of environmental impacts than where and how it was produced. Previous research has shown that even the lowest-impact meat – organic pork – is responsible for eight times more climate damage than the highest-impact plant, oilseed.

The researchers said the UK should introduce policies to help people reduce the amount of meat they eat in order to meet the nation’s climate targets. Ministers have repeatedly said they will not tell people what to consume, despite the precedent of, for example, taxes on high-sugar drinks.

Prof Peter Scarborough at Oxford University, who led the research, published in the journal Nature Food, said: “Our dietary choices have a big impact on the planet. Cutting down the amount of meat and dairy in your diet can make a big difference to your dietary footprint.”

The global food system has a huge impact on the planet, emitting a third of the total greenhouse gas emissions driving global heating. It also uses 70% of the world’s freshwater and causes 80% of river and lake pollution. About 75% of the Earth’s land is used by humans, largely for farming, and the destruction of forests is the major cause of the huge losses in biodiversity.

Prof Neil Ward at the University of East Anglia said: “This is a significant set of findings. It scientifically reinforces the point made by the Climate Change Committee and the National Food Strategy over recent years that dietary shifts away from animal-based foods can make a major contribution to reducing the UK’s environmental footprint.”…

[… Read more at The Guardian]

See original study: Scarborough et al, “Vegans, vegetarians, fish-eaters and meat-eaters in the UK show discrepant environmental impacts,” Nature Food 4 (565–574), 2023

Cambridge University students vote for completely vegan menus

Union will hold talks with catering services about removing all animal products from cafes and canteens

Nadeem Badshah, The Guardian, Feb. 21, 2023

Students at the University of Cambridge have voted to support a transition to a solely vegan menu across its catering services.

The Cambridge students’ union voted on Monday to hold talks about removing all animal products from its cafes and canteens with the university’s catering services….

William Smith, 24, from the Cambridge branch of the Plant-Based Universities campaign, said: “It’s great that Cambridge students’ union has passed our motion to work with the university to implement a just and sustainable plant-based catering system.

“By removing animal products from its menus, the university could significantly reduce its environmental impact and showcase to the world its commitment to sustainability….

[… Read more at The Guardian]


Violife’s Vegan Cheese Makes Its ‘Top Chef’ Debut in Canada

Nicole Axworthy, VegNewsSept. 15, 2022


Season 10 of Top Chef Canada will challenge competing chefs to push the boundaries on creativity with a vegan feast.

On September 26, the Food Network’s cooking competition show Top Chef Canada is returning for Season 10—and this time it will be challenging the chefs to push the boundaries of their creativity in a vegan cooking competition. …

Vegan cooking finally gets on mainstream shows

In recent years, veganism has begun permeating mainstream television, with a number of popular cooking competition shows helping to carve out space for this animal-friendly way of cooking and eating. …

[… Read more at VegNews]


Why Gen Z Is Going Plant-Based Faster Than Older Generations

Karen Asp, Sentient Media, June 28, 2022

When 22-year-old Cienna Romahn turned 16, she went vegan. She’d already been vegetarian for 10 years, but what started as a moral obligation to the animals became an obligation to the planet. “While animal welfare is still important to me, the environmental impact of my food and lifestyle choices is the number one focus for how I choose to live,” says Romahn who lives in San Francisco and works as an events manager at Hooray Foods.

Although her name may not be as well known as fellow zoomer and climate and environmental activist Greta Thunberg, Romahn is one of the many young individuals hoping to fight climate change one bite at a time. In fact, she and her peers are proving that the adage “with age comes wisdom” holds little merit. In the wake of dire warnings from the EAT-Lancet Commission and the Chatham House that the world needs to shift to a plant-based diet to avoid climate destruction, young people are latching onto the message and changing their diets faster than other generations.

For proof, look no further than a 2020 YouGov survey which found that Millennials are more likely than other generations to say they’ve changed their diet, one reason being to reduce their impact on the planet. According to the survey, they’re also more likely than Gen Xers and Baby Boomers to have tried a vegetarian diet, and more Millennials have gone vegan than older generations. What’s more, a report from the NPD Group shows that the Gen Z and Millennial generations will be almost entirely responsible for the growth of dairy and meat alternatives through 2024…

[… Read more at Sentient Media ]


Burger King ends all-vegan London branch trial amid prediction trend will become norm

Critics say trial in Leicester Square is ‘manipulative’ but expert says fast food ideally suited for plant-based dishes

Helena Horton, The GuardianApril 14, 2022

All fast food will eventually become vegan, a leading plant-based restaurateur has said, after Burger King trialled making one of its flagship restaurants completely meat-free.

The Burger King outlet in Leicester Square, London, has been offering only vegan food for a month to test its popularity. This includes a plant-based version of its Whopper burger, as well as a “chicken” katsu burger and vegan nuggets.

Burger King said it would reintroduce meat options at Leicester Square but was exploring rolling out some of the most popular dishes from the trial in branches nationwide. In the meantime, the Vegan Royale, Vegan Nuggets and Plant-based Whopper will remain on the menu across all restaurants as standard, it said.

James Lewis, who works in marketing and product development for the vegan restaurant 123V on Bond Street, London, said this was part of a growing trend….

“Fast food is 100% the best area to switch to vegan,” Lewis said, adding: “The chains are often sneered at by people but they are setting the trends here. There’s no point starting a vegan chain because once McDonald’s figure out how to make a good vegan burger, they will think: ‘What’s the point in the cost of keeping all these animals when we can make it just as good and grow it in the ground?’

“Not too long from now, people will be getting their burger and it’ll be a vegan one and that’ll be the norm and they won’t think any different.”

Burger King has set a target of a 50% meat-free menu by 2030….

[ … Read more at  The Guardian ]