Reducing our intake of animal products could benefit our health and the environment so why not try adopting a plant-based diet for Veganuary?
Plant-based eating is growing in popularity. Whether it’s adopting a full-on vegan lifestyle, taking part in Veganuary, or just ditching the meat once a week for #meatfreemonday, more and more people are recognising the benefits of more plant-based eating for both health and the environment. And going plant-based is easier than ever, with more and more shops and venues offering a growing number of plant-based options.
Helping the planet
Food was one of the big issues on the table at this year’s COP26 in Glasgow. So much so, in fact, that delegates were served a “plant-forward” menu, (with 95 per cent of ingredients coming from the UK, and the majority sourced from Scotland) with information alongside each dish showing its environmental impact with a listing of their carbon dioxide equivalent (ie. the collective greenhouse gases produced as a result of the dish). Perhaps unsurprisingly, the lowest carbon dishes were entirely plant-based, while meat-based dishes (especially those containing beef) were the highest. For example, spinach and roasted cauliflower generated just 0.2kg of carbon per serving, while a cheeseburger came in at 3.4kg.
According to research, the food production system is responsible for around one third of the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions, of which 17 per cent can be attributed to livestock.
Even if you don’t want to follow a vegan diet, skipping one serving of beef a week for a year saves the equivalent emissions to driving 348 miles in a car.
Good for your health
Following a plant-based diet could also benefit your health, as Bristol-based Dr Justine Butler of Viva! Health explains.
“A healthy vegan diet is packed with foods providing a wide range of nutrients that give you energy, are easy on your digestive system, support your immune system, help clear-up your skin and improve your mood. Studies show that a well- planned vegan diet can provide all the nutrients you need and lower the risk of many diseases. Heart disease (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, narrowing of arteries, stroke and heart attack) is much less common among vegans compared to the rest of the population. And not only can a vegan diet help prevent heart disease, it can also treat it!
“A healthy vegan diet is full of foods that provide plenty of energy. Most of all, complex carbohydrates that release their energy gradually and our bodies are made to run on them. So much so that countless athletes have turned to a vegan diet to improve their performance.
“With so many incredible vegan options available in supermarkets, there has never been a better time to try vegan!”