It is unlikely that you have not heard of Veganuary yet – the vegan challenge for the month of January, created and run by a non-profit organisation here in the UK. You might not have known that it was such an official campaign, and that, if you wanted to, you can sign up to the challenge and join an online community of others doing it too. Whether you sign up officially or go at your own pace without committing to signing up, we want to provide support for decreasing your animal product consumption.
There are two main reasons that people decide to become vegan or plant-based, animal ethics and/or environmental issues, and we will be shining a light on the environmental side.
Globally, agriculture uses nearly 40% of land, 70% of freshwater and is responsible for up to 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions (Willett, 2019). Moreover, land conversion for food production is the largest driver of global biodiversity loss (ibid). Dairy and meat products have an especially high environmental impact in comparison to other food groups. This because the process of raising animals is overall much more carbon intensive than harvesting plants. Animal-based food production involves clearing forests for animal pasture, making millions of tons of animal feed and large amounts of waste generated from farm animals. It is therefore important that we re-examine what we eat and move towards an eco-friendlier diet.
“Converting grass into (meat) is like converting coal to energy. It comes with an immense cost in emissions.” –Joseph Poore
A recent report by the EAT-Lancet Commission (2019) describes a ‘planetary health plate’. This consists of mostly ‘vegetables and fruits, with the rest made up with whole grains, plant protein sources, unsaturated plant oils, and, occasionally, small amounts of meat or fish.’ Considering this, we have put together a few tips and tricks for how you can cut down on your animal product consumption in an easy, tasty way!
- Enjoy inadvertently plant-based foods
Some of your favourite foods might be totally vegan, you have just not realised or known it!
In almost every global cuisine, there are inadvertently vegan dishes which remain at the heart of every meal. From Indian favourites such as dhal or bhajis/pakoras to Arab plates like falafel and hummus, there is ‘vegan’ food everywhere! Even a simple tin of baked beans is plant-based! Tofu is great example of a naturally plant based signature ingredient. In South-East Asian meals, it has been used for many years to create delicious dishes. We highly recommend finding some of these great traditional recipes and giving them a go!
- Discover new ingredients
For many people, a lack of knowledge around produce makes a plant-based diet seem very limited. However, a bit of research can show that this is very much not the case. There are hundreds of delicious edible plants and fungi to choose from, some of which you may have never heard of. Why not try a recipe for a jackfruit curry or Sticky Shiitake Mushrooms? They really are delicious!
- Reinvent what you know
A great way to start incorporating more plant-based meals into your diet is to reinvent dishes you know and love. Try swapping some of the meat/dairy ingredients for plant-based alternatives. You might even find you like the vegan alternative better than the original! Check out these recipes for a plant-based chilli, pizza and macaroni cheese.
- Try a non-dairy milk
Plant-based milks have grown hugely in popularity in recent years due to their environmental credentials. From oat to soya to almond, there is plenty of choice when it comes to milk alternatives! Take your time to try a few different alternatives ‘til you find which one suits you.
Key fact: for those living in the UK, oat milk comes out as the most sustainable plant milk option (by considering production and transport emissions). Read more about the different plant milks on the Ethical Consumer webpages.
- Make small switches
There are plenty of small switches you can make in your kitchen which can help you make a smooth transition to a more plant-based lifestyle. Trying using oil instead of butter when you cook or maple/golden syrup instead of honey. These changes shouldn’t alter the flavour of your dish too much and puts you well on your way to a more sustainable diet.
Did we miss one of your favourite vegan tips? Let us know in the comments!
Did you know?
Animal products are used in food and beverage production in ways you might be shocked by.
One example is alcohol. Some alcoholic drinks use animal products in their filtration processes, so are not classed as vegan or plant-based. Lots of wine, beer and cider is produced using gelatine, casein or isinglass (made of fish bladders!). Have a look at your favourite tipple to find out whether it’s vegan or not!
Willett, W. et al. (2019) “Food in the Anthropocene: The EAT–lancet commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems,” The Lancet, 393(10170), pp. 447–492. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/s0140-6736(18)31788-4.