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  • Writer's pictureThe Climate Coach

The plant based food revolution - and why it's a good thing!

Updated: Oct 27, 2022

If you care about climate - which I assume you do reading this, then you should care about what food you eat too. Over the last few years, and especially in the UK, there has been a rapidly increasing number of vegan or plant based restaurants, take-aways and products in shops.

Vegan or plant-based?

Well at a high level from a diet perspective they are the same - and in this I refer to products that are made from ingredients that do not come from (and are not) animals. That means they contain no meat, dairy or eggs.

Whether you follow a plant-based or vegan diet or not - a really easy way to reduce your carbon footprint is reduce the number of animal derived products you eat, as much as you can. In Europe, 83% of all food emissions come from meat and dairy vs only 17% from plant-based food. So most simply put - if you cut out all meat and dairy and follow plant based diet, the emissions you are actively contributing to (by buying those products thus funding the production of more) is reduced by 83%.

So back to the plant based food revolution then...

Yes - so based on that, anything that gives people an "easy" way to choose something plant based instead of meat and dairy can only be a good thing from a climate perspective. The more people that use plant based restaurants and take-aways, the more they will expand and the more new competitors will enter the market. Same with products. We have a lot to thank Veganuary for to be honest - a lot of the products were introduced as limited editions to support it and have ended up staying because they sold so well. Even McDonalds have a McPlant and Burger King offer 2 plant based burgers and vegan nuggets (and a vegan kids meal)!

So it may seem fairly insignificant to buy some vegan nuggets instead of chicken nuggets (they taste almost identical - maybe because there isn't much chicken in chicken nuggets anyway?) - but it tells the business that there is demand out there, and the more you buy these instead the more they will produce and look to expand the range.

Whether you go fully plant based - or a few days a week - or even a few meals a week, you will be reducing your personal emissions. Ideally you'll talk to your friends and family about why - or they will just notice the change and studies have shown that people are much more likely to order something plant based if someone they know does too. So something like "Have you tried the plant based burger?" may seem insignificant but you just might end up helping someone else reduce their own emissions and ideally set off a chain of events. I've certainly seen that personally with even the most staunch meat eating colleagues at work trying a plant based dish (and loving it) because I had ordered it.

A note on health and nutrition

From a climate perspective, just eating plant based anything instead of meat, dairy and eggs is generally better (there are some exceptions as with anything but in general this is true) so if climate is all you care about - this is super simple to follow. However, in reality most people (I hope?) care about their health too. Plant based "alternatives" - which I would define as a plant based version of something that was traditionally made from meat or dairy - are often heavily processed and sometimes not nutritionally the same. For example; plant based cheese has almost no protein compared to milk based cheese which is fairly high in protein - so swapping it like for like isn't necessarily going to work from a health perspective.

I think this is where a lot of people who try Veganuary or similar and found it didn't work them go wrong. You can see how too if in the example above someone eats a cheese sandwich every day and used to get their protein from the cheese - swapping this for a plant based alternative is going to mean they aren't getting any protein from that meal anymore.

From what I can see though, the "healthiest" diet you can go for - which would be one that provides you with the best quality vitamins, nutrients and calories and also reduces risk of many of the major diseases we find in modern society - then a wholefoods plant-based diet is definitely the way forward. There are some experts in this space and I will provide links and further information in a future post.

For now - get out there and try some plant based foods, and tell people about the good ones you find! Support purely plant-based business if you can, but a McPlant is still better than a Cheeseburger if not!

If you have any thoughts, feedback or ideas you wish to contribute on this or any other topic covered by The Climate Coach - please get in touch, we'd love to hear from you.

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