A European study showed that the food and animal feed system is closely linked to planetary health, and that dietary shifts towards healthy foods, such as nuts, fruits, vegetables, and legumes, are needed for environmental sustainability.
The study also found that vegetable meat alternatives and vegetable milk alternatives have significantly less environmental impact than their animal-based counterparts. While they may not be quite as sustainable as unprocessed plant foods, the difference is small compared to the transportation and processing of meat.
In fact, if everyone in America were to reduce meat consumption by even a quarter, and eat meat substitutes like veggie burgers, it would save 82 million metric tons of greenhouse emissions each year. The Beyond Meat burger uses 99% less water, 93% less land and 90% less fossil fuel emissions, while the Impossible Burger uses 87% less water, 96% less land, and 89% less fossil fuel emissions than a quarter pound of regular ground beef.
So, there you have it. There are substantial advantages to eating meat substitutes, compared to eating meat. As the sale of meat substitutes continue to grow, we can expect the benefit to the environment to grow as well.
Planet Earth crossed into the ecological red last Thursday. Wednesday August 1 marked Earth Overshoot Day, the day when the world’s population officially exhausts all the natural resources the Earth can generate in a single year, as defined by the sustainability think tank, Global Footprint Network. Read more
A new position paper from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association) highlights the benefit of a plant-based diet for both health and now the environment. The paper says plant-based diets are more environmentally friendly and sustainable than diets rich in animal products, noting that they can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 50 percent.
“Plant-based diets are more environmentally sustainable than diets rich in animal products because they use fewer natural resources and are associated with much less environmental damage” the Academy says . “Becoming vegetarian can be beneficial to personal health and the environment,” says Vandana Sheth, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.”
More and more dietitians are publishing articles on the connection between our food choices and environmental sustainability. To learn more of how a veg diet protects the environment, see our many articles, or our printable Eating Green brochure.
Add Microsoft founder and noted philanthropist, Bill Gates, to the list of leaders who understand that we can’t feed a growing and hungry population, in an environmentally sustainable way, on a meat-centered diet, especially when diet-related diseases now top the list worldwide.
According to Bill Gates, “meat consumption worldwide has doubled in the last 20 years. By 2030, the world will need millions of tons more meat than it does today. But raising meat takes a great deal of land and water and has a substantial environmental impact.” Gates cites the UN figures on the expected growth of meat (see chart). Read more