We all know that eating sustainably can be a little bit of a minefield. And it feels a little bit like the advice is constantly changing. Eat local. Eat in season. Eat less meat. You should go vegetarian. No actually, go plant-based. Gah. The list goes on. But the truth is there is no ‘one size fits all’ way to eat sustainably. And what might work well for you, might be totally impossible for someone else. So, we’re taking a look at some of the usual ‘sustainable eating’ tips, to see if they’re not only good for the planet, but practical for you.
First up in our 3 part series is:
Eat less meat or taking the leap to go fully plant based (you could’ve seen that one coming right)
Countless studies have shown that the environmental cost of rearing animals for eating is pretty huge. Sometimes it feels a bit like cow = bad and that’s that. But why actually is that? Well, you need a huge amount of water and food (such as grass, oats and corn) to raise an animal compared to how much meat you get. Then if you think about how much land you need to raise animals (and to grow all the food they are eating). In fact, over 5 billion hectares is used for our meat consumption. That’s over half of the world’s habitable land – and about the same as 5 billion football fields.
If we all ate a plant-based diet we would need 75% less farmland – that’s a heck of a lot more room for trees. The point is that meat farming is super inefficient when it comes to how it uses resources – which is why it’s unsustainable. And you’ve probably heard all about cow farts and burps. They contain loads of methane, which is a greenhouse gas. That’s way worse than carbon dioxide. So we kinda want to avoid it where we can.
So now you know where the cow = bad messages come from, what’s next?
Going plant-based can seem daunting, especially if you grew up eating the usual meat and 2 veg. The great news is that veganism is becoming much more mainstream, so the options in supermarkets are getting so much better. Plant-based meat alternatives now range far beyond the dry and tasteless options from a few years ago. From Impossible burgers that have us questioning the validity of their plant-based status, to the hugely successful Gregg’s Vegan Sausage Roll, we’ve reached the vegan-wonder years.
Not sure how to get started? Start small. Meat-free Mondays, aim for one meat-free meal / day or even plant-based ready meals from great brands such as AllPlants can really help you get some new planet-loving, meat-free recipes into your life with zero-faff.
Alex’s top tip: Pick up a pack of veggie mince and add a spoonful of marmite to your spag bol to get that umami meaty flavour.