Is veganism the key to a sustainable diet?
In 2017, market demand for vegan and vegetarian food increased by a whopping 987 per cent. In the UK alone, the population is eating 50 per cent less beef than previous years. Why is this happening? In the first instance we’re becoming increasingly aware of the environmental impacts of meat production. Additionally, social media has exposed us to cases of horrific animal abuse within the industry.
As a result veganism has emerged as a champion of ethical and sustainable eating, backed by scientific research that a plant-based diet could help save the planet. But how easy is it to go cold turkey on meat?
My family heritage is Italian, meaning it’s not exactly typical for us to shy away from animal products. From creamy mozzarella to smoky slices of prosciutto, I’ve grown up eating quality meat and dairy in abundance.
It wasn’t until last year when my partner and I sat down to watch the 2005 documentary Earthlings – which is a great resource for understanding more about veganism – that we decided it’s time to transition to a planet-based diet.
I’ve been vegan for almost a year now, and here’s what I’ve discovered.
It starts with a change of habit
Prior to going vegan, I’d tried vegetarianism a couple of times, but found I easily merged back on the meat trail. This was usually because of the various eating habits and traditions of my family and friends. I was also guilty of using the excuse that there are limited veggie options available in food courts and restaurants.
Sometimes it’s simply easier not to consciously think about avoiding animal products. Now almost a year as a rookie vegan, I’ve discovered it’s not so hard after all. I’ve learnt it’s about sweeping away old eating habits, and forming a range of new ones.
Food is usually about habits – what we buy, how we store it, how we prepare our favourite go-to meals in order to gain sustenance, quell hunger and impress our guests.
With a shift in the choices we make we can completely overhaul our habits for the better. After about two and a half weeks, I stopped missing meat and rapidly gained a taste for vegan meals and treats.
A diet derived from nature just feels good
I felt ethically more comfortable straight away. And I knew I was being healthier because I started to actively strive for a fuller nutritional intake more than ever before. This was backed by all the research I was doing.
The science speaks for itself
Researching the social and environmental impacts of meat and dairy on the people, animals and the planet reaffirmed why I now only consume plant-based products. Here are some that I found most startling:
• An organic vegan diet produces 94 per cent less greenhouse gas emissions than the average meat and dairy diet • In Australia, methane emissions from livestock are greater than the carbon dioxide emissions from all our coal-fired power stations combined • It takes 4000 glasses of water just to produce one glass of milk
It’s time for our eating habits to evolve
So, with all this mounting research in favour of veganism, we’re left asking ourselves: What are we waiting for, to make this change for a better world and a better life? Are we waiting for tremendous food and water shortage to affect us? Or natural disasters carrying detrimental impacts to our planet and ecosystems?
We need to weave all sustainability methods into the fabric of our existence. A great place to start on your sustainable journey is by focusing on how we fuel our mind and bodies - with food.